William Shakespeare and his peers helped create not only a new kind of theatre in the Elizabethan era but also a new form of language. In an age of religious and political upheaval, they gave timeless expression to what it means to be human in works that continue to be staples of the Western canon. Although the life of Shakespeare--perhaps the most famous household name in English literature--has been the source of much interest and research, the lives of those around him are less well known, though they contributed to the same literary revolution. In this book, acclaimed writer Charles Nicholl shows that, far from being a lone genius, Shakespeare belonged to a talented group of writers, poets and dramatists, including Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne and Sir Walter Raleigh. Illustrated throughout with portraits, engravings and printed documents, Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, part of The National Portrait Gallery Companions series, demonstrates through the biographies of these key literary figures how Elizabethan society valued literary talent as well as how these writers saw themselves.