Ackroyd and Kermode both reach into the past, Ackroyd to the primeval "Albion" into which THWS was born, Kermode to the political problems of the Tudor dynasty's claim to the throne and the controversies over religion.
In contrast to these various schemes for aligning THWS, WSAF, and WSCI, Garber by and large refuses narrative and the discriminations and distortions that beginnings, middles, and ends entail.
Greenblatt and Wood rehearse more circumstantial explanations for how THWS found himself on the road to London, but the journey thither occupies the same pivotal position in both stories.
What is more, if Wood can be believed, Hamlet shows THWS, a Catholic, coming to terms with his country's religious history at an epochal moment: "The pre-Reformation past is beginning to recede, and now Shakespeare can dramatize it, exorcizing the ghosts" (240).
As far as THWS is concerned, the story ends as all human stories do, with death.
To what extent do these nine authors turn to contextual documents for their evidence about THWS and to what extent do they depend on internal evidence from the plays and poems themselves?
Shapiro uses Paul Hentzner, Thomas Platter, and other travelers' descriptions of the palace to set the scene in amazingly precise detail--and then introduces THWS amid those details and endows him with a consciousness.
In his determination to set down THWS amid the quotidian realities of Elizabethan life, Ackroyd is willing to take more risks than Wells and Shapiro.
A great deal of material, economic, and social history is put in place, then THWS is introduced into the midst, with only the occasional foray into what THWS "must have felt" (for example, the child listening to his parents talk about religion).
The trick in achieving this subjectivity effect is deftly to fuse THWS with CWWS without directly appealing to WSAF, all the while casting WSCI as more a magician with words than a recorder of historical events.
In most of the other books, the obsessive interest falls instead on one question: was or was not THWS a Catholic?
The desire to establish that THWS was secular, skeptical, tactical, or at least only conventionally Protestant makes sense for the latte-drinking buyers of these books, but concern about religion suggests more than a narrowly historical interest.