Neville was descended on his father's side from the famous Nevilles, including the brother of "Warwick the Kingmaker." His mother was the niece of Sir Thomas Gresham, the great merchant. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford, where he was an outstanding scholar, and toured the Continent for four years with Sir Henry Savile and others. For almost all of his adult life he served as a Member of Parliament, and was Ambassador to France in 1599-1601. Neville lived at Billingbear Park, about six miles from Windsor.
Neville became something of a popular hero after his imprisonment in the Tower (1601-3), along with Lord Southampton, for his part in the Essex rebellion. He was, in effect, leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons from about 1607 until his death.
Neville's life parallels the accepted course and chronology of Shakespeare's works in an uncanny and unfailing way, far better than from either what is known of the life of Shakespeare himself, or any other alternative "candidate." In particular, scholars have long been puzzled by the great change in Shakespeare's writing career around 1601, when he wrote Hamlet and then the other great Tragedies. While this accords with nothing in Shakespeare's life, it was a clear response to Neville's traumatic imprisonment. There are so many other parallels that they cannot be coincidental. Neville's life as "Shakespeare" is set out in Brenda James and William D. Rubinstein, The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare (2005).