A Biography of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, reputably described as the English national poet, is considered the most outstanding playwright of all time. His audience and fans can be found in various languages and countries of the world. However, he lived a mysterious life.
Introducing William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was a reputable dramatist, actor, and poet of the Renaissance epoch. From 1594 upward, he was a notable member of King men’s company of dramatic players.
For more than four centuries, his works have been translated into many languages of the world treating themes of human emotions and political contention. In spite of this, facts about his personal life remained somewhat obscure.
Some facts that historians have been able to acquire from his personal life have been drawn from two primary sources. First, scholars examine his plays and poetry to get some of his personal information. Second, scholars make reference to official records as contained in social groups like church and court. However, these two sources only provide peripheral information about Shakespeare’s personal life.
William Shakespeare’s Date of Birth
There is no official birth certificate has been found for William Shakespeare. Any information about his birth would have remained unknown if the record of his baptism had not been found in the Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. According to the Trinity church record, William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564. From this date, scholars have made the inference that Shakespeare was three days before that day. His date of birth would then be April 23, 1564.
Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, was a merchant that dealt in leather and his mother, Mary Arden, was a local heiress of landed properties. William Shakespeare was the third born of six children. He had two elder sisters by the name, Joan and Judith and three younger brothers by the name, Gilbert, Richard, and Edmund.
Prior to the birth of William Shakespeare, John Shakespeare became accomplished in his merchandise. This earned him mayor-resembling positions like alderman and bailiff. However, records show that his merchandise suffered great setbacks towards the last years of the 1570s.
Shakespeare’s Childhood and Education
Details surrounding Shakespeare’s childhood are mostly found to be obscure. For his education, there are practically no tangible materials to assess. However, many scholars opined that he must have had his education in King’s Men School in Stratford. This is because it is one of the few accessible schools in Shakespeare’s area of residence where he could have learned reading, writing, and classics.
They’re also highly probable claims that Shakespeare went to school on a scholarship because his father was a public official. However, the obscurity of his educational background has stirred up many schools of thoughts that questioned the authenticity of the name, “William Shakespeare”, and whether the great works that were attributed to this name could be genuinely traced to him.
Shakespeare’s Wife and Children
On November 28, 1582, William Shakespeare took Anne Hathaway as a wife in Worcester, Canterbury Province. Hathaway hailed from a local village by the name Shottery, located at the west side of Stratford. Shakespeare was eight years younger than his 26-year-old wife.
On May 26, 1583, the union was blessed with a baby girl. She was named Susanna. Two years after the birth of Susanna, the Shakespeares celebrated the birth of a set of female twins. They were named Judith and Hamnet. Tragically, Hamnet was lost to an unknown cause when she was 11 years of age.
The ‘Lost Years’ of William Shakespeare
The concept scholars used to describe a period of seven years where no record of William Shakespeare was found at all was tagged ‘’lost years” of William Shakespeare. The biographical silence was characterized after the birth of his twins in 1585. However, many scholars opined different events to fill in the space of Shakespeare’s action in this period.
According to Sir Thomas Lucy’s conception of what happened in that silent period, it is understood that Shakespeare might have absconded to a covert territory after trespassing on a local landlord’s game. Other scholars also hold the speculation that he might have been serving as a vice schoolmaster in Lancashire.
However, there seems to be a consensus among biographers that London received him in the 1850s. Speculations are further made that he might have gained employment in some of London’s distinguished theatres as a horse attendant. In centuries to come, this event would be depicted and updated by a plethora of upcoming actors and dramatists in Hollywood and Broadway.
The King’s Men
There were proofs and files that authenticated that William Shakespeare served in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men as a managing partner. He had a good relationship with this London-based acting company in his profession as a writer and actor.
Bearing to the coronation of King James in 1603, the company modified its name to King’s Men. King’s Men passed as one of the most outstanding troupes of that epoch. Files and documents affirmed the notable status of King’s Men. According to many records, there were claims that some of Shakespeare’s works found limelight as popular literature under this company.
In the 16th century, theatrical performances were not highly considered fascinating by people of noble classes in England. However, a minority of the noble class were patrons, fans, and acquaintances of the actors.
Shakespeare, The Actor, and Playwright
A 1952 evidence prove that Shakespeare earned from his gift as an actor and a writer of plays.
In the early stage of his professionalism, Shakespeare’s gift made him encounter the person of Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. He published his earliest poetry in honor of him: “Venus and Adonis” (1593) and “The Rape of Lucrece” (1594).
By 1597, about fifteen of the thirty-seven Shakespearean plays had already seen the limelight. According to civil records, it was understood that Shakespeare bought one of the best buildings in Stratford for the residential home of him and his family. The house was called “The New House”.
According to oral tradition, it was learned that Shakespeare spent most of the time in the theatre and only come home occasionally during the Lenten period.
By 1599, Shakespeare had collaborated with some of his colleagues to build a new theatre on the south coast of River Thames. The new theatre was called “Global Theatre”.
In 1605, Shakespeare invested 440 pounds in real estate and earned 60 pounds a year later. This gave him the financial relief to pursue his writing career without any other monetary distraction.
The Shakespearean Style of Writing
The Shakespearean writing style had somewhat similarity with the customary style of his era. The customary style featured elongate metaphors and rhetorical phrases that are usually incompatible with the story’s plots or characters.
However, Shakespeare was creative enough to create a method that fuses the rigid customary style to his free flow of words.
He barely used rhymes to his iambic pentameter. Alternatively, he made use of blank verses too. However, there were some aspects of his work where he wrote in poetic styles or free verse. Shakespeare was a flexible writer who freed himself from the barriers of conventional writing style.
The Shakespearean Plays
Shakespeare wrote a total of thirty-seven plays which chronology cannot be easily determined. These plays were created between 1590 to 1613. His plays can be categorized into histories, tragedies, comedies, and tragic comedies.
His early works mostly characterized histories and comedies. His histories include Henry VI (Parts 1, 11, and 111), Richard II, Henry V, and Julius Caesar. It was also in this period that he wrote the tragicomedy, Romeo and Juliet.
His comedies include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the love-based Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It.
In the later period of his life, the themes of his plays were tragedy and tragicomedies. His tragedies remained the pride of classical literature with timeless and universal works like Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth.
In the last phase of his writing career, he wrote tragicomedies like The Tempest, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale. They had tragedies in them but they ended on a good note with reconciliation and forgiveness playing out at the end of the plays.
According to oral tradition, the death of Shakespeare was marked on the same day he marked his 52nd birthday which was April 23, 1616. However, some scholars argue that this conception is founded on nothing but a myth. This is because the Trinity church marked Shakespeare’s attendance on April 25, 1616. A record has been provided to prove the authenticity of this claim.
The casual factor of his death remained unknown. However, there is a conception that traced his death to a brief illness.
The greater part of his possession was willed to his eldest daughter Susanna. Only one-third of his estate was willed for his wife. This has stirred up thoughts that the couple was not close. However, there is no material or oral tradition that implied that the couples had marital problems.
There are still strong intellectual debates in the discourse of whether or not William Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.