'Bate probably knows as much as any single person can know about Shakespeare ... Surprising, fresh, exhilarating, brilliant' Richard Eyre, Guardian
How did plague turn Shakespeare from a jobbing hack into a courtly poet?
How did Bottom's dream rewrite the Bible?
How did Shakespeare's plays lead to the deaths of an earl and a king?
Why was he the one dramatist of his times never to be imprisoned?
Weaving a dazzling tapestry of Elizabethan beliefs and obsessions, private passions and political intrigues, Soul of the Age leads us on a breathtaking tour of the extraordinary, colourful and often violent world that shaped and informed Shakespeare's thinking.
'An excellent writer … he achieves a resonant and complex portrait, constantly alert to new lines of enquiry and unexpected conclusions' Charles Nicholl, Sunday Telegraph
'Pure pleasure ... I defy any reader, no matter how saturated in Shakespeare, not to find something new here' Independent on Sunday