Carefully researched and energetically written by the pioneering editor of the plays, Nicholas Rowe, himself one of the most distinguished tragedians of his age, this biography is the source for most of the facts and some of the legends of Shakespeare’s life. Rowe interviewed widely to collect as much reliable information about Shakespeare as he could, and his text is as close as we will ever get to contact with the people who knew and worked with Shakespeare. Never before reprinted, except as an appendix to Alexander Pope’s later edition of the plays, Rowe’s biography remains a fascinating document not just about Shakespeare himself, but also for the growth of his reputation, and the expanding interests of critics and the world of letters at the beginning of the 18th century. Rowe (whose translation of Lucan’s Pharsalia was hailed by Samuel Johnson as "one of the greatest productions of English poetry") writes a vivid, elegant English that is a constant pleasure to read. This edition is introduced by Charles Nicholl, who places this fascinating text in its time, and reads it with the insight of a fellow sleuth into the world of the Globe and its dramatist.
Nicholas Rowe (16741718) wrote some of the most admired tragedies and poems of the 18th century, but is now remembered mainly for his pathbreaking edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1709, to which all later editions are indebted. Charles Nicholl is a biographer who has won the James Tait Black and Hawthornden Prizes, as well as the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for his work on Marlowe. His works include Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind and The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street.