Narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, the film unfolds during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave), who rules over her subjects with a firm hand despite plots to overthrow her.
Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans) writes from an early age but tragedy in his youth forbids him from publicly airing his works at a time when many are convinced that the theatre is the crucible of the Devil.
When the public mood changes, Edward asks friend Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to let him use his name on his plays but Ben refuses.
Instead, young actor William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) agrees to help Edward with his ruse, taking public credit for the plays. As interest in the works intensifies, fellow writer Christopher Marlowe (Trystan Gravelle) learns the truth about the plays’ real author and Edward is faced with a stark choice to keep his identity secret.
Released: October 28 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas), 130 mins