'The definitive single-volume work on Shakespeare''s life and plays by the editor of the Oxford Shakespeare. Why do Shakespeare''s works continue to exert so strong an influence and have such lasting appeal? What do they have to offer modern readers and play-goers? Stanley Wells answers these questions in this wide-ranging and hugely readable critical survey of Shakespeare''s career as a poet and playwright. The result of Wells'' lifetime''s work on Shakespeare''s plays and poems, this original and entertaining study is both an ideal introduction to the writer and an invaluable companion for those renewing their acquaintance with his work either as readers or theatre-goers. ''A lively, comprehensive, eminently readable study of Shakespeare''s plays ... There is an easy but sparky cross-flow between scholarly research and reference to contemporary theatre productions, and countless, fascinating dips into the tub of theatrical history ... This has diamond precision and would enlighten student, actor or general reader'' Sunday Times'