Flamboyant Matthew Cannonbridge was touched by genius, the most influential mind of the 19th century, a novelist, playwright, the poet of his generation. The only problem is, he should never have existed, and recently-divorced 21st-century don Toby Judd is the only person to realise something is wrong with history. Cannonbridge was everywhere: he was by Lake Geneva when talk between Byron, Shelley and Mary Godwin turned to the supernatural; he was friend to the young Dickens as he laboured in the blacking factory; he was the only man of note to visit Wilde in prison. His extraordinary life spanned a century. But as the world prepares to toast the bicentenary of Cannonbridge's most celebrated work, Judd's discovery leads him on a breakneck chase across the English canon and countryside, to the realisation that the spectre of Matthew Cannonbridge, planted so seamlessly into the heart of the 19th-century, might not be so dead and buried after all...