William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was a poet, playwright, and actor who is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers in the history of the English language. Often referred to as the Bard of Avon, Shakespeare's vast body of work includes comedic, tragic, and historical plays; poems; and 154 sonnets. His dramatic works have been translated into every major language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Peter Holland was the director of the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, and professor of Shakespeare studies at the University of Birmingham. He is now the McMeel Family Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Notre Dame University. Stephen Orgel is the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of the Humanities at Stanford University and general editor of the Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture. He has edited Ben Johnson's masques, Christopher Marlowe's poems and translations, and many other classics. His books include The Authentic Shakespeare (2002), Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England (1996), and The Illusion of Power (1975). A. R. Braunmuller is a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he teaches courses on English and European drama from 1500 to the present. He has written critical volumes on George Peele and George Chapman and has edited plays in both the Oxford (King John) and Cambridge (Macbeth) series of Shakespeare editions. He is also the general editor of The New Cambridge Shakespeare.