The true biography of Shakespeare - and the only one we really need to care about - is in the plays. Sir Frank Kermode, Britain's most distinguished literary critic, has been thinking about them all his life. This book is a distillation of that lifetime's thinking. The great English tragedies were all written in the first decade of the seventeenth century. They are often in language that is difficult to us, and must have been hard even for contemporaries. How and why did Shakespeare's language develop as it did? Kermode argues that the resources of English underwent major change around 1600. The originality of Kermodes's writing, and the intelligence of his discussion, make this book a landmark.