This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the development of the concept of the author-portrait in early modern England. It begins with a reconsideration of Elizabeth's famous characterization of herself as her tragic ancestor. The book offers a radically unorthodox reading of John Milton's Maske, and focuses on both the nominal villain and the place of women in the society for which the work was composed. It takes a broad view of the question of performance through disguise. The book also focuses on the growing influence of women on literature and drama in the English Renaissance. It proposes that forgetting, or the suppression or subversion of memory, is an essential creative principle. The book discusses the history of attitudes toward plagiarism, and its relation to concepts of literary creativity.