Harold Brooks was Professor of English at Birkbeck College in the University of London. As a general editor of the Arden Shakespeare, he closely supervised over twenty-nine volumes, contributing critical essays to "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "The Comedy of Errors," as well as appendices to various other Arden editions. He is the author of a wealth of scholarship on "Richard III," including the essay ""Richard III": Antecedents of Clarence's Dream."
In Part I of the introduction, the editor explores the original composition of the text using historical evidence with consideration of the poetic style and describes the play's likely sources and antecedents, though he maintains that the existence of "any comprehensive source for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is altogether unlikely." In Part II, the editor dissects the play with regard to exposition; design and plot; characters and comedy; lyricism, music and dance; the distinct settings; and the principal themes. Four appendices follow the play itself. They include source materials, four textual cruces within "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the mislined verse in QI, v. i. and Quince's Prologue (v. i. 108-16) rightly punctuated. The Arden Shakespeare edition also includes a list of abbreviations used in the text for reference.
The Arden Shakespeare has developed a reputation as the pre-eminent critical edition of Shakespeare for its exceptional scholarship, reflected in the thoroughness of each volume. An introduction comprehensively contextualizes the play, chronicling the history and culture that surrounded and influenced Shakespeare at the time of its writing and performance, and closely surveying critical approaches to the work. Detailed appendices address problems like dating and casting, and analyze the differing Quarto and Folio sources. A full commentary by one or more of the play's foremost contemporary scholars illuminates the text, glossing unfamiliar terms and drawing from an abundance of research and expertise to explain allusions and significant background information. Highly informative and accessible, Arden offers the fullest experience of Shakespeare available to a reader.