Melvyn Bragg examines what we know about the life of William Shakespeare. Charles Dickens said of the deeply enigmatic Shakespeare, “It is a great comfort…that so little is known concerning the poet. The life of William Shakespeare is a fine mystery and I tremble every day lest something should turn up”. The mystery may have been a pleasure to Dickens but for forgers, conspiracy theorists and Shakespeare scholars it is a tantalising conundrum that has exercised minds since the day the playwright died. How was the low born son of an illiterate craftsman, with a meagre education, able to write with such skill and erudition? How did a provincial man manage to become so attuned to the politics of kings? And how do we know that the plays that we have are the right plays, written by the right man and published in the form they were written?With Katherine Duncan-Jones, Professor of English at Somerville College, Oxford; John Sutherland; Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English at University College, London and textual scholar Grace Ioppolo, lecturer in English at the University of Reading.