Guide Shakespeare

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It was usual for christenings to take place on the third day after birth. He was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who had recently converted England to Protestantism.


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William was the third of eight children, though his two elder siblings did not survive childhood. Attendance records from this time have been lost. It is likely that he began his education at the age of six or seven. As his father was now a bailiff, young William probably attended the local grammar school. Its curriculum emphasised Greek classics and pupils also learned plays in Latin. Religious education was also important, and Shakespeare drew on these sources in his later work with classical and religious allusions.

Shakespeare probably attended school until about age There is no record of him going to university. Francesco da Mosto investigates how plausible it is that Shakespeare could have visited Venice. Shakespeare married the year-old Anne Hathaway, in when he was She was already three months pregnant with their first child. The baptisms of his three children are the last record of him for seven years, known as his lost years. At some point Shakespeare went to London, leaving his family in Stratford, and established himself as a playwright and actor.

William Shakespeare Biography

A century later his first biographer suggested he fled to London to escape punishment for deer poaching. However, no records have been found of his activities in these years.

Characters, including Shakespeare's bumbling Falstaff, feature in The Wits — a 17th Century collection of comic play scenes. The next known record of Shakespeare appears after he was already a playwright in London. It's a review — and not a positive one. Drama in Elizabethan theatre shifted from the religious to the secular and companies of players formed to entertain the public under the patronage of noblemen.

Folger Theatre

William Shakespeare's coat of arms, reproduced in Scholars suggest the application showed he was now a successful businessman as much as a talented playwright. In , Love's Labour's Lost was Shakespeare's first work published with his name on the title page, suggesting it was now a selling point. That year the author Francis Meres singled him out from a group of English writers as "the most excellent" in both comedy and tragedy.

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His work attracted royal attention; he acted in several performances before Queen Elizabeth I. Others suggest Richard II criticised her as it describes the overthrowing of a monarch. The applause! The delight! The wonder of our stage. James Shapiro on the building of the Globe. The group built their own theatre called the Globe, and Shakespeare owned a This made him even wealthier.

He invested in property in Stratford and London, and records of his purchases survive. In he bought the second biggest house in Stratford for his family, as well as acres of farmland and a cottage. Later, he bought property to let in London, showing his business acumen. James Shapiro explains the changes Shakespeare faced after King James took the throne. Some later observers have suggested that this separation, and the couple's relatively few children, were signs of a strained marriage, but we do not know that, either.

An Introduction

Someone pursuing a theater career had no choice but to work in London, and many branches of the Shakespeares had small families. Shakespeare's only son, Hamnet, died in at the age of His older daughter Susanna later married a well-to-do Stratford doctor, John Hall. Their daughter Elizabeth, Shakespeare's first grandchild, was born in In , just months before his death, Shakespeare's daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney, a Stratford vintner.


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  • The family subsequently died out, leaving no direct descendants of Shakespeare. For several years after Judith and Hamnet's arrival in , nothing is known for certain of Shakespeare's activities: how he earned a living, when he moved from Stratford, or how he got his start in the theater.

    Following this gap in the record, the first definite mention of Shakespeare is in as an established London actor and playwright, mocked by a contemporary as a "Shake-scene. The next year, in , Shakespeare published a long poem, Venus and Adonis.

    William Shakespeare

    The first quarto editions of his early plays appeared in For more than two decades, Shakespeare had multiple roles in the London theater as an actor, playwright, and, in time, a business partner in a major acting company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men renamed the King's Men in Shakespeare prospered financially from his partnership in the Lord Chamberlain's Men later the King's Men , as well as from his writing and acting. He invested much of his wealth in real-estate purchases in Stratford and bought the second-largest house in town, New Place, in He died on April 23, —the traditional date of his birthday, though his precise birthdate is unknown.

    We also do not know the cause of his death. His brother-in-law had died a week earlier, which could imply infectious disease, but Shakespeare's health may have had a longer decline. The memorial bust of Shakespeare at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford is considered one of two authentic likenesses, because it was approved by people who knew him.

    The bust in the Folger's Paster Reading Room, shown at left, is a copy of this statue. John Shakespeare worked as a glove-maker, but he also became an important figure in the town of Stratford by fulfilling civic positions. John was awarded a coat of arms, now displayed on the monument above the Shakespeare grave in Holy Trinity Church. Shakespeare would have lived with his family in their house on Henley Street until he turned eighteen.

    It was a rushed marriage because Anne was already pregnant at the time of the ceremony. Together they had three children. Hamnet died when he was just 11 years old. When did Shakespeare go to London? We do know Shakespeare's twins were baptised in , and Shakespeare established his reputation in London by But the intervening years are considered a mystery. This suggests he divided his time between Stratford and London a two or three-day commute.

    In his later years, he may have spent more time in Stratford-upon-Avon than scholars previously thought.