One of the central assumptions of established Shakespeare scholarship has been that the playwright produced flawless work needing no revision-that if a text was inferior in style, it could be assumed that Shakespeare did not write it. Thus Shakespeare had nothing to do with the "bad" quartos; these were instead the work of "memorial reconstruction," in which actors remembered and subsequently wrote down entire texts composed by others. In this controversial book, Eric Sams suggests that there is no evidence to substantiate memorial reconstruction, that Shakespeare very probably revised his plays repeatedly, and that he may therefore be the author of the "bad" quartos and of other works not attributed to him. Drawing on testimony from Shakespeare's contemporaries and on documents concerning his family, Sams presents a vivid biographical picture of the first thirty years of the playwright's life. He establishes that Shakespeare's origins were humble: his parents were illiterate Catholics and the family trade was farming and animal husbandry. During this period Shakespeare acquired some knowledge of legal practice, served as the legal hand in an attorney's office, married, and moved to London to join a theatre company and to establish a career as an actor and playwright. Sams traces the impact of Shakespeare's upbringing in the plays themselves-not only those of the Folio edition but others, including the "bad" quartos. He finds that these texts are filled with figurative language that would have been gleaned from a rural upbringing and legal experience. Using detailed textual analysis, he argues compellingly that during these early "lost" years, Shakespeare was in fact writing first versions of his later great works.