Early years. Town records indicate that William Shakespeare was the third child in the family. His birth is unregistered, but legend pins it on April 23, 1564, possibly because it is known that he died on April 23rd 52 years later. In any event, William’s baptism was registered with the town of Stratford on April 26, 1564. Little is known about his childhood, although it is generally assumed that he attended the local grammar school, the King’s New School. The school was staffed by Oxford-educated faculty who taught the students mathematics, natural sciences, logic, Christian ethics, and classical languages and literature.
Shakespeare did not attend university, which was not at all unusual for the time. University education was reserved for wealthy sons of the elite, and even then, mostly just those who wanted to become clergymen. The numerous classical and literary references in Shakespeare’s plays are a testament, however, to the excellent education he received in grammar school, and speaks to his ability as an autodidact. His early plays, in particular, draw on the works of Seneca and Plautus. Even more impressive than Shakespeare’s formal education is the wealth of general knowledge he exhibits in his work.
His vocabulary exceeds that of any other English writer of his time by a wide margin. In 1582, at the age of eighteen, William Shakespeare married twenty-six-year-old Anne Hathaway. Their first daughter, Susanna, was not baptized until six months later—a fact that has given rise to speculation over the circumstances surrounding the marriage. In 1585, Anne bore twins, baptized Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare. Hamnet died at the age of eleven, by which time William Shakespeare was already a successful playwright. Around 1589, Shakespeare wrote Henry VI, Part 1, which is considered to be his first play.
Sometime between his marriage and writing this play, he moved to London, where he pursued a career as a playwright and actor. b) Acting career. Having gained recognition as an actor and playwright Shakespeare had clearly ruffled a few feathers along the way – contemporary critic, Robert Green, described him in the 1592 pamphlet as an, “upstart Crow”. As well as belonging to its pool of actors and playwrights, Shakespeare was one of the managing partners of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company (renamed the King’s Company when James succeeded to the throne), whose actors included the famous Richard Burbage.
The company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London near the banks of the Thames – the Globe and the Blackfriars. In 1593 and 1594, Shakespeare’s first poems, ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘The Rape of Lucrece’, were published and he dedicated them to his patron, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. It is thought Shakespeare also wrote most of his sonnets at this time. Playwright Shakespeare was prolific, with records of his first plays beginning to appear in 1594, from which time he produced roughly two a year until around 1611.
His hard work quickly paid off, with signs that he was beginning to prosper emerging soon after the publication of his first plays. By 1596 Shakespeare’s father, John had been granted a coat of arms and it’s probable that Shakespeare had commissioned them, paying the fees himself. A year later he bought New Place, a large house in Stratford. His earlier plays were mainly histories and comedies such as ‘Henry VI’, ‘Titus Andronicus’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and ‘Richard II’. The tragedy, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, was also published in this period.
By the last years of Elizabeth I’s reign Shakespeare was well established as a famous poet and playwright and was called upon to perform several of his plays before the Queen at court. In 1598 the author Francis Meres described Shakespeare as England’s greatest writer in comedy and tragedy. In 1602 Shakespeare’s continuing success enabled him to move to upmarket Silver Street, near where the Barbican is now situated, and he was living here when he wrote some of his greatest tragedies such as ‘Hamlet’, ‘Othello’, ‘King Lear’ and ‘Macbeth’. c) Death. Records reveal that the great Bard revised his will on March the 25th, 1616.
Less than a month later, he died on April the 23rd, 1616. Literature’s famous Bard is buried at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. He infamously left his second-best bed to his wife Anne Hathaway and little else, giving most of his estate to his eldest daughter Susanna who has married a prominent and distinguished physician named John Hall in June 1607. This was not as callous as it seems; the Bard’s best bed was for guests; his second-best bed was his marriage bed… It is not known what significance this gesture had, although the couple had lived primarily apart for 20 years of their marriage.
His will also named actors Richard Burbage, Henry Condell and John Hemminges, providing proof to academics today that William was involved in theatre. The Bard’s direct line of descendants ended some 54 years later until Susanna’s daughter Elizabeth died in 1670. Written upon William Shakespeare’s tombstone is an appeal that he be left to rest in peace with a curse on those who would move his bones… Good friend, for Jesus? sake forbeare To digg the dust enclosed here! Blest be ye man that spares thes stones And curst be he that moues my bones. d) Doubts about authorship and their ground.
The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument about whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Anti-Stratfordians—a collective term for adherents of the various alternative-authorship theories—say that Shakespeare of Stratford was a front to shield the identity of the real author or authors, who for some reason did not want or could not accept public credit. Although the idea has attracted much public interest, all but a few Shakespeare scholars and literary historians consider it a fringe belief and for the most part acknowledge it only to rebut or disparage the claims.
Shakespeare’s authorship was first questioned in the middle of the 19th century, when adulation of Shakespeare as the greatest writer of all time had become widespread. Shakespeare’s biography, particularly his humble origins and obscure life, seemed incompatible with his poetic eminence and his reputation for genius, arousing suspicion that Shakespeare might not have written the works attributed to him. The controversy has since spawned a vast body of literature, and 80 authorship candidates have been proposed, including Francis Bacon, the 6th Earl of Derby, Christopher Marlowe, and the 17th Earl of Oxford.
Supporters of alternative candidates argue that theirs is the more plausible author, and that William Shakespeare lacked the education, aristocratic sensibility, or familiarity with the royal court that they say is apparent in the works. Those Shakespeare scholars who have responded to such claims hold that biographical interpretations of literature are unreliable in attributing authorship, and that the convergence of documentary evidence used to support Shakespeare’s authorship—title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records—is the same used for all other authorial attributions of his era.
No such direct evidence exists for any other candidate, and Shakespeare’s authorship was not questioned during his lifetime or for centuries after his death. Despite the scholarly consensus, a relatively small but highly visible and diverse assortment of supporters, including prominent public figures, have questioned the conventional attribution. They work for acknowledgment of the authorship question as a legitimate field of scholarly inquiry and for acceptance of one or another of the various authorship candidates. 2. Genre classification of Shakespeare’s works. Periodization.
Shakespeare wrote in three genres: tragedy, comedy and history. Although this seems very straightforward, it is notoriously difficult to categorize the plays. This is because the histories blur comedy and tragedy, the comedies contain elements of tragedy, and so on. Tragedy Some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays are tragedies and the genre was extremely popular with Elizabethan theater goers. It was conventional for these plays to follow the rise and fall of a powerful nobleman. All of Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists have a fatal flaw that propels them towards their bloody end.
Popular tragedies include: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Macbeth. Comedy Shakespeare’s comedy was driven by language and complex plots involving mistaken identity. A good rule of thumb is if a character disguises themselves as a member of the opposite sex, you can categorize the play as a comedy. Popular comedies include: Much Ado About Nothing,The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice. History Shakespeare used his history plays to make social and political commentary. Therefore, they are not historically accurate in the same way we would expect a modern historical drama to be.
Shakespeare drew from a range of historical sourcesand set most of his history plays in the Hundred Years War with France. Popular histories include: Henry V and Richard III Researchers conventionally distinguish the following periods of the great playwright. The first period (1590 – 1600 years) – a time of hope, attempts to try his talent in all genres, it was a time of resounding success and fame. In the first period such works were written: Chronicle: “Henry VI» and “Richard III» (tetralogy), “Richard II», «Henry IV» (2 parts), “Henry V» (cycle), “King John”.
Shakespeare revealed laws of history motion in his chronicles. Comedy: “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, “Labour’s Lost Love”, “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “As You Like It,” “Twelfth Night”. In his comedies Shakespeare does not use satire but humor. There is no evil in his comedies, there is only a lack of harmony, which is always restored. Tragedy: “Titus Andronicus”, “Romeo and Juliet. “