Jonathan Bate's Soul of the Age brings us closer than ever to understanding what being Shakespeare was actually like. How did plague turn Shakespeare from a jobbing hack into a courtly poet? How did Bottom's dream rewrite the Bible? How did Shakespeare's plays lead to the deaths of an earl and a king? And why was he the one dramatist of his generation never to be imprisoned? Weaving a dazzling tapestry of Elizabethan beliefs and obsessions, private passions and political intrigues, Soul of the Age leads us on an exhilarating tour of the extraordinary, colourful and often violent world that shaped and informed Shakespeare's thinking. Written by one of the world's leading experts, it combines almost everything there is to know about the man and his work in one sensational narrative. 'Bate probably knows as much as any single person can know about Shakespeare ... Surprising, fresh, exhilarating, brilliant', Guardian 'Intensely enjoyable ... you find yourself gasping with pleasure' John Carey, Sunday Times Jonathan Bate is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick, chief editor of The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works and the author of many books, including most recently John Clare: A Biography, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. A Fellow of the British Academy, he was awarded a CBE in 2006.