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On April 26, 1564, John Shakespeare’s son, William, was baptized at the Stratford Parish Church. No one knows for certain when his birthday was. (Brown 22) It was thought that young Shakespeare began attending school at the age 7, in Stratford. (Wadsworth 344) Before Shakespeare reached the age of 13, his family endured hardships. Shakespeare’s formal schooling ceased. At that time, William may have begun helping his father in the gloving business. (Wright 22)
“There is historical warrant for such an approach. Christian images, of course, pervade Shakespeare’s culture, throughout his career he obviously thought in terms of them. If those images are themselves frequently allegorical, and we should consider the extent to which the allegories are incorporated into the living texture of Shakespeare’s creations.” (Kirch 18) At a young age Shakespeare may have viewed annual plays and seen traveling artists. These performances possibly ignited a spark that continues to burn. (Wright 20) William Shakespeare was an Englishman who wrote poems and plays. According to many he was labeled as one of “the greatest dramatists the world has ever known and the finest poets” who wrote in the English language. Shakespeare’s work relied mostly on his instincts of nature. His understanding of other people allowed him to fully grasp the quality he wrote of. (Wadsworth 342)
John Shakespeare married Mary Arden in 1557. Both the Shakespeare’s and the Arden’s were farmers, and sold their products to make a living. (Brown 23) Shakespeare had two sisters. Joan died in 1562; Margaret died at infancy. Then in 1566 Gilbert was born. In 1569 a second child named Joan was born; in 1571 came Anne, who died when she was eight year’s old. Richard was then born in 1574 followed by Edmund in 1580. (25) William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18. Anne was at least 8 years her husband’s senior. The marriage record dates November 27, 1582 in an Episcopal register found in Worchester. (45-46) The custom in Stratford after the eldest son married, was for the new couple to live in the house of the groom’s father. In all likelihood, Shakespeare obeyed the customary procedure. (Wright 24) Shakespeare and his wife probably had a good and happy marriage. She gave birth only 6 months after they were legally wed. (Wilson 43) Shakespeare’s son named Hamnet was only 11 years old when he died. He also had a daughter named Judith. Judith Shakespeare had 3 sons who died at young ages. Shakespeare’s only bloodlines were the descendants of his (second) sister Joan. (Brown 25-26)
Between 1585 and 1592, there was no account of a man named William Shakespeare. Typically referred to as the lost years. There were no records of his life. Some scholars believe he was living in London serving as an apprentice. Others believe he retreated and wrote under a fake name. (Wadsworth 345) At about age 20, some people thought young William stole a dear from a wealthy man in order to poach. A crime not tolerated during that period. (Wright 6) Eight years before the death of Shakespeare he wrote 4 new plays. Some scholar’s debate, which plays, was his last. Very little was known about him before the age of 28. (Wilson 38) He continued to visit Stratford on occasion. (Wadsworth 347) He bought a house in London where he gradually retired. On April 23, Shakespeare was laid to rest inside the Stratford Parish Church in 1616. Shakespeare was a young 52 when he died. (Wadsworth 347) “For nearly a century after his death Shakespeare remained more a theme for criticism by the few than a subject of adulation by the many.” (Brown, 2) William Kent erected a stone statue of William Shakespeare. The statue is located in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abby. (Wright 8)
Shakespeare may not have felt a calling to write when he left Stratford, but he had a lot to learn in the big city of London. (44-45) After Shakespeare went to London, he joined an acting group. He had no experience. He was merely a performer. (43) William Shakespeare was an important part of a troupe called the Lord Chamberlains Men. He eventually became an honored senior member. (11) Writing plays soon became a demanding business. Companies were always looking for new material. With few new plays, companies began paying for the plays. Once a play was sold it became the property of the company. (44-45) Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. The plays were separated into three basic categories: comedy, tragedy, and history. (Wadsworth 342) With Shakespeare’s vast influence on many different cultures, he tried and tested variations of grammar and word usage. He experimented, so the stuffy English language would not be so common and boring. Now, in today’s language, a few of Shakespeare’s words have become used daily. (343)
According to Ben Johnson, Shakespeare was to be a writer for all time to be highly acclaimed. He deserves applause by all playwrights past and present. Shakespeare’s works are timeless. (Kirsch 130) What makes Shakespeare’s works vary, is the interest of the reader. (129) “…Shakespeare conceals nothing and condemns nothing- because he is utterly unlike a schoolmaster or preacher- that the young then and the young now feel safe with him.” (Wilson 53) The works of Shakespeare contain a strong and constant truth touching emotional and supernatural aspects of life. These realities make Shakespeare’s works vital even in today’s learning institutions, and theatrical realms, accounting for his enormous success. Many people feel that he is well deserving of adulation and utmost attention. (Kirsch 127) ““John Dryden praised Shakespeare for his “universal mind, that comprehended all characters and passions.”” (IX) In Shakespeare’s own day and time, no one ever faintly imagined what a huge success his works would become. No writer since William Shakespeare has ever been as well known. If not read, studied, or performed, the literary works of “Sweet Mr. Shakespeare” have been colossally renown. (Brown 2) “No other writer has better served the tourism agency, the hotel manager, inn-keeper, caterer and salesman of mementos as well as the publisher and printer, actor and manager. No other writer has evoked a tithe of the editions, commentaries, emendations, speculations, and down-right lunacies that have been begotten by the Shakespeare’s wonder.” (8) “William Shakespeare was indeed an Elizabethan who took advantage of his time.” (Wright 6)
Brown, Ivor. Shakespeare. New York: Time Incorporated, 1962.
Of Virginia, 1990
Kirsch, Arthur. The Passions of Shakespeare’s Tragic Heros. London: University Press
Wadsworth, Frank W. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book. 1992 ed.
Wilson, J. Dover. The Essential Shakespeare. London: Cambridge University Press,
Wright, Louis B. Shakespeare’s England. New York: American Heritage Publishing
Co., Inc., 1964
Word Count: 1115
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