Life history theory in biology helps prompt the question: Does literature reflect the different phases of human life history equally? And if not, why not? i suggest that it does not. The centrality of sexual love and violent death in literature reflects the two key factors in biological evolution: reproduction and survival. But the very familiarity of these themes poses risks for storytellers. since nothing makes for more arresting unpredictability than conflicting motives in active opposition, stories tend to focus disproportionately on conflicts of wills around love (mate choice and retention) and death (social oppositions and transgressions). Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale offers an illuminating example.