William Shakespeare

.. as married to Anne Hathaway. Anne was the daughter of a farmer who lived in Shottery a village about 1 mile from Stratford. At the time Shakespeare was 18 years old and Anne was 26. Early in 1585 Anne Shakespeare gave birth to twins a boy, Hamnet, and a girl Judith. No information exist on Shakespeare life from Feb.

2, 1583 when the twins were baptized to 1592 then evidence indicates Shakespeare was living in London, scholars sometimes call this time the lost years. Shakespeare’s name appears with his parents names in a Stratford lawsuit in 1588, but he may not have been living in Stratford at that time. Scholars think that sometime during the lost years Shakespeare moved to London and served a period of apprentice shop in the city’s theatrical life. There is some evidence Shakespeare had become well known in London theatrical life by 1592, that same year a pamphlet appeared with an apparent reference to Shakespeare, this reference suggested he had become both an actor and a playwright. A writer named Robert Greene had written a letter going against theater owners, actors, and writers who he believed had abused the talents of university educated playwrights such as himself. After Greene had died the letter was published in a pamphlet called Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance. Most scholars agree that in one passage Greene attacked Shakespeare as an acotor who thought he could write plays as well as educated dramatists could, this passage follows with the Elizabethan spelling and punctuation midernized: .. an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum [Johnny-do-everything], is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country. When Shakespeare got to London he joined a theater company, these Companys consists of a permanent cast of actors who do a lot of play’s week after week.

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These companies were commercial organizations that depended on admission prices for their income. Scholars don’t know which theater company Shakespeare joined before 1594 but he was a sharer(stockholder) of a company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in 1594. There was evidence that payment to Shakespeare and his fellow actors for performances by the company at Queen Elizabeth’s court. Lord Chamberlain’s Men were one of the most popular theatrical groups in London, Shakespeare was the leader of the group for the rest of his career. From 1592 to 1594 London officials closed the theaters because of plagues, so there was no need for play’s to be written at this time Shakespeare began to write poems.

The Elizabethans considered the writing of poetry much more important than the writing of play’s, Shakespeare believed that he would be able to gain the respect of the people through poems instead of play’s. In 1593 Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis was printed by Richard Field a Stratford neighbor who had become a London printer. He dedicated the poem to 19-year-old Henry Wriothesley the Earl of Southampton. Shakespeare thought dedicating the poem to him would win his support, Venus and Adonis quickly became a success. Shakespeare wrote another poem called Rape of Lucrece in 1594 and dedicated it to Earl of Southampton, the wording of this was thought that the Earl gave him money for the dedication to him in the first poem. From 1594 to 1608 Shakespeare was fully involved in the London theater world, in addition to his duties as a stockholder and actor in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men he wrote an average of almost two play’s a year for his company.

During Shakespeare’s time he was not praised as other people in later time did. An exception was the English clergyman and schoolmaster Francis Meres. In 1598 Meres wrote Palladis Tamia, a book that has become an important part in the source of information of Shakespeare’s life. In this book Meres said of Shakespeare As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and tragedy among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage. Although Meres’ praise did not represent everyone’s opinion it showed that Shakespeare had established writer by at least the late 1590’s and he had not yet written most of his tragedies such as Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. By the 1590’s Shakespeare had not only become an established writer but he had also become prosperous. In 1597 he purchased New Place one of the two largest houses in Stratford, Shakespeare obviously remained a Stratford man at heart in spite of his busy successful life in London. Shakespeare preferred to invest in Stratford more than in London.

In 1599 Shakespeare and six associates became owners of the Globe a new outdoor theater in the London suburb of Southwark, the Glabe was one of the largest theaters in the London area it may have held as many as 3,000 spectators. Also in 1599 a printer William Jaggard published The Passionate Pilgrim a book of 20 poems supposedly written by Shakespeare, in fact it only had contained only two of Shakespeare’s sonnets and three poems from his comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost. The printer used Shakespeare’s name on the cover to promote the book’s sale. In 1603 Queen Elizabeth the first died and was succeeded by her cousin James the forth of Scotland as king of England he became James the first. James enjoyed and actively supported the theater, he issued a royal license to Shakespeare and his fellow players, which allowed the men to be called the King’s Men.

In return for the license the actors entertained the king at court on a more or less regular basis. James support came at a convenient time an outbreak of plague in 1603 had closed the theaters for long periods making theatrical life uncertain, in fact James’s entry into London as king had to be postponed until 1604 because of the plague. When James finally made his royal entry into London the King’s Men accompanied him. The members of the group were known as the grooms of the chamber in spite of this title and the name King’s Men the actors were not actually friends of the king, their relationship to the royal court was simply that of professional entertainers. The King’s Men achieved success and became London’s leading theatrical group.

In 1608 the company leased the Blackfriars theatre for 21 years, the theater stood in a heavily populated London district called Blackfriars. The Blackfriars Theatre had artificial lighting, was heated, and served as the company’s winter playhouse. In the summer they performed at the Globe Theater though. From 1599 to 1608 was a period of extraordinary literary activity for Shakespeare, during these years he wrote several comedies and almost all the tragedies that have made him famous. Shakespeare’s masterpieces during this period include the comedies Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night the history Henry the fifth and the tragedies Antony, Cleopatra, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello.

In 1609 a London publisher Thomas Torpe published a book called Shakespeares sonnets. This book had contained more than 150 sonnets Shakespeare had written. Scholars have been really curious about this dedication Thorpe wrote to the book. This dedication reads: “To the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets Mr. W.H.”.

For many years people have tried to figure out who Mr. W.H. is, but have not accomplished it, Scholars have studied the sonnets to determine what extent they are autobiographical, but they have failed to discover anything to go on. Most of Shakespeares readers say the sonnets are just good to read not as a autobiographical statement. During Shakespeares last eight years of life Shakespeare wrote only four plays: Cymbeline, Henry the 8th, The Tempest, and The Winters Tale.

Some people say that the Tempest written about 1610 was Shakespeares last play. Evidence shows that Shakespeare purchased a house in the Blackfriars district of London and gradually reduced his work in London instead of abruptly ending it. Shakespeare had divided his time between Stratford and London his public life in London and his private in Stratford. Shakespeare had houses in London until 1604 but he went back to Stratford all the time. Some important things he had to go back for is his mothers death in 1608 and his daughter Susanna s marriage in 1607. His other daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney on Feb.

10, 1616. Six weeks later Shakespeare made a will. Within a month Shakespeare had died and was buried inside the Stratford parish church. Shakespeares monument records the day of his death, which is April 23. Shakespeares son Hamnet died in 1596 at the age of 11. His daughter Susanna had one child Elizabeth. Shakespeares other daughter Judith gave birth to three boys but they died before she did. Shakespeares last descendant, his grand daughter Elizabeth died in 1670.

Bibliography Fetzer, Scott. The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book Inc., 1993ed.


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