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This book commemorates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death on 23 April 1616. Four centuries later, sales of his works are second only to the Bible. Yet, in common with the authors of the Holy Book, little is known about the poet and playwright, and the few facts that have emerged over the course of several hundred years are largely speculative – when they aren't complete b*llocks. An entry from the diary written by the Revd John Ward, vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon from 1662 to 1681, is instructive, for he recorded tales passed on to him by people who had known Shakespeare. In one, he mentions that 'the Bard' held his fifty-second birthday party at New Place in Stratford and that 'Shakespeare, [the poet Michael] Drayton and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting, and it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a feavour there contracted.' But if the date of his death is known, the actual day of his birth remains conjecture. As does so much else . . . This amusing but instructive book assembles many of the legends, the lies, the imputations, and a host of uncommon facts from the late Tudor and early Jacobean period, loosely arranged in chronological order to establish William Shakespeare in his literary and historical setting. In doing so, it shows us the man and his time, thereby illuminating the greatest playwright who ever lived.