Michael Wood tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary woman in a time of revolution. Born during the reign of Henry VIII, Mary Arden is the daughter of a Warwickshire farmer, but she marries into a new life in the rising Tudor middle class in Stratford-upon-Avon. There she has eight children, three of whom die young. Her husband becomes mayor, but is bankrupted by his shady business dealings. Faced with financial ruin, religious persecution and power politics, the family is the glue that keeps them together until they are rescued by Mary's successful eldest son - William Shakespeare!