Was Shakespeare a snob? Poor Naked Wretches challenges the idea that our greatest writer despised working people, and shows that he portrayed them with as much insight, compassion and purpose as the rich and powerful.
Moreover, they play an important role in his dramatic method. Stephen Unwin reads Shakespeare anew, exploring the astonishing variety of working people in his plays, as well as the vast range of cultural sources from which they were drawn.
Unwin argues that the robust realism of these characters, their independence of mind and their engagement in the great issues of the day, makes them much more than mere 'comic relief'. Compassionate, cogent and wry, Poor Naked Wretches grants these often-overlooked figures the dignity and respect they deserve.