William Shakespeare (1564–1616) was born a tradesman’s son in Stratford-upon-Avon and died one of the town’s wealthiest and most respected citizens. His would have seemed no more than a modestly and prosaically successful career, were it not for the fact that he was also a writer of genius.His rival Ben Jonson paid him tribute as ‘not of an age, but for all time’; true enough, but he was also very much the product of a particular time: his art was rooted in a kind of theatre which first came into being after he was born and vanished soon after his death; this brief period saw an extraordinary flowering of literature for the stage, a dramatic tradition which nurtured his genius and was in turn profoundly influenced by it. This book, designed both for the student as well as the general reader, aims to consider Shakespeare’s life and work – all his plays and major poems – within the context of his times.
Jeremy Lemmon has lectured at the University of Colorado and the Institute of Renaissance Studies in Oregon. He has written articles and reviews for The Times Literary Supplement, Theatre Notebook and On-Stage Studies. He edited Macbeth in collaboration with Ronald Watkins for Oxford University Press and wrote four books in the In Shakespeare's Playhouse series for David & Charles. He was also a member of the Committee of Scholars and Practitioners which advised on the design of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Bankside.