In Shakespeare's time, the year began on 25 March (or Lady Day), but in this book it is assumed that the year starts on I January.
My citations from Shakespeare are normally to the texts and line numbers in The Complete Works, ed. Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, et al. ( Oxford, 1986). In a few cases, I have quoted from the companion volume of Shakespeare, The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition ( Oxford, 1986) (O-S).
It has seemed wise to respect the original spelling of historical documents when the sense of the quoted words is clear; but the older form of a letter (such as 'v' for 'u', or 'i' for 'j') is changed in some instances. Italicized letters within a quoted word ('her majestie') and [bracketed] words signify modern additions, such as a spelling out in full. For clarity, with longer extracts dating from after Shakespeare's early years, I have sometimes used modern spelling.
I have used Mr and Mrs to signify 'Master' and 'Mistress' as distinct from the modern 'Mr' and 'Mrs'. In Shakespeare's day the rank (or title) of Master usually conveyed a special degree of social distinction or gentlehood.