'Mr William Shakespeare was born at Stratford upon Avon in the county of Warwick.
His father was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he killed a calf he would do it in a high style, and make a speech.' Gentleman scholar John Aubrey spent his life collecting anecdotes, gossip and biographical detail about his contemporaries.
These biographical sketches are the result - a colourful evocation of poets and philosophers, including Francis Bacon, George Herbert, Thomas Hobbes, Philip Sidney and William Shakespeare.
An unorthodox approach to the art of biography, full of lively and witty detail, they are a singular portrait of a tumultuous age.