The characters in "The Shakespeare Stealer" include Widge, Simon Bass, who also poses as a man named Falconer, Dr. Timothy Bright, Alexander "Sander" Cooke, Julia "Julian" Cogan, William Shakespeare, Nick and Thomas Pope. Widge's master, Simon Bass, wants Widge to use charactery, a shorthand language Widge's former master Dr. Timothy Bright had him learn, to steal "Hamlet" before Shakespeare brings the play to stage.
Widge, the protagonist, is an orphan whose mother died giving birth to him. His name is short for "Pigwidgeon." Thomas Pope was the head of the orphanage in which Widge lived. Widge lived with his first master, Dr. Timothy Bright, for seven years, where he learned shorthand to copy scientific notes and sermons for Dr. Bright. Dr Bright sells Widge to Simon Bass, whose desire for Widge to steal "Hamlet" brings Widge to Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's acting troupe.
SImon Bass pretends to be Falconer, though his real identity is not revealed even to the reader until he dies. Falconer follows Widge, pressuring him to do Bass's bidding. Widge fails at his first and second try, so he decides to join Lord Chamberlain's Men, which introduces him to the rest of the characters in the book.
William "Will" Shakespeare is the playwright of "Hamlet." Sander is an actor who becomes Widge's best friend, and Julian is a girl really named Julia posing as a boy to act with Lord Chamberlain's men; she is Widge's friend as well. Nick is an arrogant actor who frequently causes problems for the other actors in Lord Chamberlain's men, including Widge.