In 1612 Shakespeare gave evidence at the Court of Requests in Westminster - it is the only occasion his spoken words are recorded. The case seems routine - a dispute over an unpaid marriage-dowry - but it opens up an unexpected window into the dramatist's famously obscure life-story. Charles Nicholl applies a powerful biographical magnifying glass to this fascinating episode in Shakespeare's life. Marshalling evidence from a wide variety of sources, including previously unknown documentary material on the Mountjoys, he conjures up a detailed and compelling description of the circumstances in which Shakespeare lived and worked, and in which he wrote such plays as Othello, Measure for Measure and King Lear.
Charles Nicholl is a historian, biographer and travel writer. His books include The Reckoning (winner of the James Tait Black prize for biography and the Crime Writers' Association `Gold Dagger' award for non-fiction), A Cup of News: the life of Thomas Nashe, Shakespeare and his contemporaries (Natural Portrait Gallery insights series) and Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa (winner of the Hawthornden Prize). His most recent book was the acclaimed biography, Leonardo da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind, which has been published in 17 languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has lectured in Britain, Italy and the United States.