Shakespeare's career as actor and playwright reveals the extraordinary accommodation of his genius to the circumstances of his time. This unique account describes Shakespeare at work against a background of theatrical rivalry, opportunism, service to noble patrons, and political intrigue. Peter Thomson recreates Shakespeare's writing career year by year, showing how the plays mirror their times. The story reveals the precarious nature of theatrical survival, the constant threat posed by the withdrawal of noble or royal patronage, the spread of disease, the anxieties of war and the climate of political uncertainty. This account of Elizabethan and Jacobean social and professional life offers a fascinating insight into the world in which Shakespeare produced his plays. There are numerous illustrations gleaned from museums, libraries and great houses to illustrate the theatrical and social context of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Formerly published within the Cambridge Canto imprint, this paperback restores the format and illustrations of the original hardback.