I had the first inkling of mistery surrounding Shakespeare's history from Jasper Fforde's Friday Next series. Reading this books gave me more background of what the problem really was and people involved in it. It was astounding how little the scholars know about Shakespeare's life and how much assumptions and wild guesses gotten print across the years. As Bryson said, he tried to only present the fact, which why his book is so short :) Had he really only wrote about Shakespeare's life fact, the book would be shorter still. Fortunately he also took pains writing about the theater life at that era with his humorous style making this book a truly enjoyable book indeed. What I learned from this book: - Nobody knows for certain how the bard really looked like. His wide-spread picture couldn't really be proven as a picture of him, which made it only slightly more accurate than Indonesian's heroes pictures printed on our money. - It seems one of the requirement to become a Shakespeare scholar is to have a wild imagination and gumption to publish what you believe regardless of the fact or the lack of corresponding evidence.- Diaries and appointment books are important. You'll never know hundred years from now which Brad Pitt scholar will thank you for noting the exact date of Mr & Mrs Smith's premiere.