William Shakespeare, also referred to as the “Bard” was an English poet, playwright and actor and is thought of by many as the greatest writer in the English language. After his death he left behind 38 plays, 154 Sonnets, and several narrative poems. His poems have been translated and performed all over the world.
The Life of Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and was baptized into his religion on April 26 1564. He was the third child of eight in his family and the oldest surviving son. Shakespeare’s was educated in many different schools. He attended the King’s New School in Stratford, and chartered school in 1553, and also Grammar schools during the Elizabethan era. William Shakespeare married at the age of 18 to a woman named Anne Hathaway. The marriage ceremony was arranged I haste and some believe this was because of Anne’s pregnancy. Six months after they were married she gave birth to their first daughter, Susanna. They were blessed with two other children two years later; son Hamnet, and daughter Judith. Unfortunately Hamnet would only live 11 years. He died due to unknown causes at the age of 11 and was buried in 1596.
Shakespeare seemed to have disappeared after the birth of his twins. Scholars have often referred to this time period as Shakespeare’s “lost years.” There were many stories as to the unknown whereabouts of Shakespeare at this time from illegal deer poaching to minding the horses in a nearby London theatre to being a school master. No evidence has ever been found to substantiate any of the tall tales.
No one knows exactly when Shakespeare’s writing career began but there are records showing that many of his plays became popular and hit the stage in 1592. Robert Greene, a playwright critic knew Shakespeare well enough by then to attack some of his writings. Shakespeare’s play from about 1594 were only performed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men; a company owned by a group of players, one of which was Shakespeare. His plays became so well known and loved that The Lord Chamberlain’s men became the leading play company in London. After the death of the Queen they changed their name to the King’s Men.
Of course, today we know and recognize the name Shakespeare because of his contributory plays that he left behind. Scholars have divided Shakespeare writing career into four different periods. Up until the mid 1590’s he wrote mainly comedies which were influenced by the Roman and Italian models. From 1595 until about the 1600’s he wrote his tragedies. His most popular ones we recognize today are Romeo and Juliet, and the last which he wrote; Julius Caesar. From about 1600 to 1608 scholars have said he wrote more tragedies, and then from about 1608 to 1613 he wrote tragicomedies called romances. Some of his other more famous playwright’s which have not already been mentioned are Henry VI, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado about nothing, and of course the famous Hamlet and Macbeth plays.
Shakespeare’s works made a lasting impression upon theatre as well as literature. He may not have received the same recognition in his day as he has received in ours, but was appreciated by the people of his time. William Shakespeare died on April 23 1616 and was buried in Stratford upon Avon.