Francis Bacon, philosopher, essayist, lawyer and statesman, was born in London in 1561. He studied at Cambridge and was enrolled at Gray's Inn in 1576. In 1584 he entered Parliament, and made the acquaintance of the Earl of Essex, who endeavoured to advance him in his career. Nevertheless, having been appointed to investigate the causes of Essex's revolt in 1601, Bacon was largely responsible for the earl's conviction. Bacon was appointed Solicitor-General in 1607 and eventually became Lord Chancellor in 1618. In 1621 he was charged with bribery, fined and imprisoned in the Tower. Following his release, he retired to his family home and spent his remaining years in philosophical and literary work. His ambition was to create a new system of philosophy to relace that of Aristotle, and he has been justly acclaimed as an inspiration to later scientists, rationalits and materialists. He died in 1626.John Pitcher is a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. He has edited Cymbeline for the Penguin Shakespeare and The Winter's Tale for the third series of the Arden Shakespeare.