Man of the Millennium he may be but William Shakespeare is a shadowy historical figure. His writings have been analyzed exhaustively but much of his life remains a mystery. This controversial biography aims to redress the balance. To his contemporaries, Shakespeare was known not as a playwright but as an actor, yet this has been largely ignored or marginalized by most modern writers. Here John Southworth overturns traditional images of the Bard and his work, arguing that Shakespeare cannot be separated from his profession as a player any more than he can be separated from his works. Only by approaching Shakespeare's life from this new angle can we hope to learn or understand anything new about him. Following Shakespeare's life as an actor as he learns his craft and begins work on his own plays, Southworth presents the Bard and his plays in their proper context for the first time. Groundbreaking, contentious and a work of deep scholarship and understanding, Shakespeare the Player should change the way we think about the English language's greatest artist.