Once, Theodora was little more than a slave, the daughter of a bear-keeper, running barefoot through the streets of Constantinople. Now she is Theou doron, 'the Gift of God', Empress of Byzantine Rome and the most powerful woman in the world.
In Stella Duffy's compelling new novel, the beguiling and extraordinary Empress Theodora emerges from the shadow of history into brilliant light. Clever, courageous and ruthless when betrayed, Theodora rules alongside her husband, the Emperor Justinian - a true love match in a world of political marriages.
While wars rage on the borders of the Empire, Theodora discovers that the greatest danger to her reign - and her life - lies much closer to home. From the catastrophic and terrifying riots that burn through the city; to vengeful enemies at the palace who will never accept 'Theodora-from-the-brothel'; to plagues and plots and murder, Theodora learns what it truly means to be Empress.
Spanning over twenty dramatic years of Theodora's reign, The Purple Shroud is a vivid portrait of a charismatic, exceptional woman and a fascinating exploration of both the pleasures and the burdens of power.
Stella Duffy was born in London, grew up in New Zealand and has lived back in London since 1986. She has published twelve novels. The Room of Lost Things and State of Happiness were both longlisted for the Orange Prize, The Room of Lost Things won Stonewall Writer of the Year 2008 and Theodora won the same award in 2010. She has written over forty short stories, including several for BBC Radio 4, and won the 2002 CWA Short Story Dagger for Martha Grace. Her ten plays include an adaptation of Medea for Steam Industry, Prime Resident and Immaculate Conceit for the National Youth Theatre, The Book of Ruth (and Naomi) for Sixty-Six Books at the Bush Theatre. In addition to her writing work she is an actor and theatre director.