This book offers a comprehensive, readable and authoritative introduction to the study of Shakespeare, by means of nineteen newly commissioned essays. An international team of prominent scholars provide a broadly cultural approach to the chief literary, performative and historical aspects of Shakespeare's work. They bring the latest scholarship to bear on traditional subjects of Shakespeare study, such as biography, the transmission of the texts, the main dramatic and poetic genres, the stage in Shakespeare's time and the history of criticism and performance. In addition, authors engage with more recently defined topics: gender and sexuality, Shakespeare on film, the presence of foreigners in Shakespeare's England and his impact on other cultures. Helpful reference features include chronologies of the life and works, illustrations, detailed reading lists and a bibliographical essay.