A new exhibition opens at the National Portrait Gallery this week called Imagined Lives, the accompanying book has been available for a couple of weeks. The authors involved in this imagining of lives for unknown portrait subjects include crime writers John Banville (aka Benjamin Black), Alexander McCall Smith and Minette Walters as well as non-crime writers Tracy Chevalier, Julian "Downton Abbey" Fellowes, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton and Joanna Trollope.
You can read an extract from False Mary (which is the cover on the book below) written by Alexander McCall Smith on the NPG website.
Eight internationally acclaimed authors have invented imaginary biographies and character sketches based on fourteen unidentified portraits. Who are these men and women, why were they painted, and why do they now find themselves in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery? With fictional letters, diaries, mini-biographies and memoirs, Imagined Lives creates vivid stories about these unknown sitters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.