The Life of Shakespeare

Shakespeare is one of the most known poets in today’s English literature. He was often called “England’s national poet” and also “Bard of Avon”. He was baptised on April 26th 1564 and his birth is unknown. He passed away on the 23rd of April in 1616. He wrote many plays and sonnets. He also wrote two long narrative poems. He married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18. Anne Hathaway gave birth to three of his children. William Shakespeare passed away three years prior to when he retired to Stratford in 1613. Most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the King’s New School in Stratford which was a free chartered school in 1553.

This school was about a quarter mile away from his home. Six months after he was married, his wife gave birth to a daughter of Shakespeare called Susanna. Susanna was baptised on the 26th of May in 1583. Almost two years later, Anne Hathaway gave birth to twins, son Hamnet and daughter Judith. Several of Shakespeare’s plays were on the London stage by 1592. Rowe was the first biographer to pass down the tradition that Shakespeare retired to Stratford some years before his death. William Shakespeare wrote about thirty-eight plays, one-hundred-fifty-four sonnets, and two long narrative poems.

He also wrote two epitaphs on a man named John Combe, one epitaph on Elias James, and several other poems. Published in 1609 were his last non-dramatic works to be printed. Evidence shows that Shakespeare wrote sonnets throughout his career for private readership. Shakespeare seems to have planned two contrasting series, one about uncontrollable lust for a married woman of dark complexion called “The Dark Lady”, and one about conflicted love for a fair young man “The Fair Youth”. Shakespeare also published two narrative poems on erotic themes, “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece”.

These two poems show the guilt and moral confusion that result from uncontrolled lust. Shakespeare’s characters and stories reveal universal truths about the human condition in a way we can all relate to. Whether it is the tragic outcome of unchecked greed and ambition, an unrelenting desire for revenge, or the pursuit of love. His representation of human nature is just as real and as relevant today, as it has been through the centuries. It is truly amazing that Shakespeare continually produced both poetry and prose of such a high standard.

In 1612, Shakespeare was called as a witness in Bellott v. Mountjoy, a court case concerning the marriage settlement of Mountjoy's daughter, Mary. In March 1613 he bought a gatehouse in the former Blackfriars priory and from November 1614 he was in London for several weeks with his son-in-law, John Hall. His last three plays were collaborations, probably with John Fletcher, who succeeded him as the house playwright for the King’s Men. Shakespeare left the bulk of his large estate to his elder daughter Susanna. Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church two days after his death.