Here’s a question: ‘Which is the “greatest” Shakespeare play, Hamlet or King Lear?’ It’s what we might call an academic question, in both senses of the word, inviting not very serious answers like ‘what on earth does it matter?’ or ‘Anthony and Cleopatra, actually, since you ask, thank you’. But the question does have a serious issue at its heart and it’s one dealt with at length in a book by R.A. Foakes called Hamlet versus Lear (Foakes 1993), a book that (if I can say so) fleshes out in a great deal of detail some ideas that I’d been teaching (and I’m sure many people had been teaching) about the plays for, in my case, about fifteen years before the book came out. (The book does other things as well, of course.) One very simple starting point, as I don’t want to seem to be repeating Foakes (and I want to move on to thinking about the two plays together in other ways, as my title suggests), is that another question to ask about the two plays in relation to each other might be this: ‘Have these two plays always been so highly and equally highly regarded, and if not why might that be?’