This revised edition of the Arden Shakespeare Complete Works includes the full text of Double Falsehood, which was published in the Arden Third series to critical acclaim in 2010. The play is an eighteenth century rewrite of Shakespeare's "lost" play Cardenio and as such is a fascinating testament to the original. A short introduction outlines its complex textual history and the arguments for including it within the Shakespeare canon. The Complete Works contains the texts of all Shakespeare's plays, poems and sonnets, edited by leading Shakespeare scholars for the renowned Arden series. A general introduction gives the reader an overall view of how and why Shakespeare has become such an influential cultural icon, and how perceptions of his work have changed in the intervening four centuries. The introduction summarises the known facts about the dramatist's life, his reading and use of sources, and the nature of theatrical performance during his lifetime. Brief introductions to each play, written specially for this volume by the Arden General Editors, discuss the date and contemporary context of the play, its position within Shakespeare's oeuvre, and its subsequent performance history. An extensive glossary explains vocabulary which may be unfamiliar to modern readers.
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.
Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.
(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)