Understanding of literary texts can be greatly enhanced by an appreciation of the context within which their authors lived and worked. Each of these volumes focuses on an individual writer, offering lively, accessible and relatively short essays, by leading scholars, on the many contexts - literary, political, intellectual, social and cultural - that have a bearing on his or her work. Biographical and literary influences on the writer, publishing history and the creative afterlife of the work are also addressed. The first volumes in the series include major writers from Ben Jonson to James Joyce, from Milton to Joseph Conrad. Future volumes will focus on Chaucer, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson and Marcel Proust, among many others. Each volume offers comprehensive information and comment to clarify and illuminate the life and work of the literary figure concerned.