Biography of William Shakespeare
Biography of William Shakespeare
It is known that he was born in April 1564 and that he died on 23rd April 1616 at the age 52. He was baptized on 26th April 1564. How fitting that the great English writer is so closely identified with the patron saint of England. Shakespeare had seven siblings. They were: Joan (1558); Margaret (1562); Gilbert (1566); Joan II (1569); Anne (1571); Richard (1574) and Edmund (1580). Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was 18. She was 26 and she was pregnant when they got married. Their first child was born six months after the wedding.
Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway had three children together – a son, Ham net, who died in 1596, and two daughters, Susanna and Judith. His only granddaughter Elizabeth – daughter of Susanna – died childless in 1670. Shakespeare therefore has no descendants. Shakespeare died a rich man. He made several gifts to various people but left his property to his daughter, Susanna. The only mention of his wife in Shakespeare’s own will is: “I give unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture”. The “furniture” was the bedclothes for the bed. Shakespeare was buried in the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.
He put a curse on anyone daring to move his body from that final resting place. His epitaph was: “Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here: Blest be the man that spares these stones, And curst be he that moves my bones. ” Though it was customary to dig up the bones from previous graves to make room for others, Shakespeare’s remains are still undisturbed. During his life, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets! This means an average 1. 5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. His last play The Two Noble Kinsmen is reckoned to have been written in 1613 when he was 49 years old.
While he was writing the plays at such a pace he was also conducting a family life, a social life and a full business life, running an acting company and a theatre. Few people realize that apart from writing his numerous plays and sonnets, Shakespeare was also an actor who performed many of his own plays as well as those of other playwrights. During his life Shakespeare performed before Queen Elizabeth I and, later, before James I who was an enthusiastic patron of his work. Shakespeare’s profession was acting. He is listed in documents of 1592, 1598 and 1603 as an actor.
We know that he acted in a Ben Jonson play and also in his own plays but it’s thought that, as a very busy man, writing, managing the theatre and commuting between London and his home in Stratford where is family was, he didn’t undertake big parts. There is evidence that he played the ghost in Hamlet and Adam in As You Like It. In Elizabethan theatre circles it was common for writers to collaborate on writing plays. Towards the end of his career Shakespeare worked with other writers on plays that have been credited to those writers. Other writers also worked on plays that are credited to Shakespeare.
We know for certain that Timmons of Athens was a collaboration with Thomas Middleton; Pericles with George Wilkins; and The Two Noble Kinsmen with John Fletcher. Some scholars have maintained that Shakespeare did not write the Shakespeare plays, with at least fifty writers having been suggested as the “real” author. However, the evidence for Shakespeare’s having written the plays is very strong. Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language – after the various writers of the Bible. Suicide occurs an unlucky thirteen times in Shakespeare’s plays.
It occurs in Romeo and Juliet where both Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, in Julius Caesar where both Cassius and Brutus die by consensual stabbing, as well as Brutus’ wife Portia. Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. In none of them does he spell his name in what has become the standard way. He spells it Shakespere and Shakespear. Shakespeare lived a double life. By the seventeenth century he had become a famous playwright in London but in his hometown of Stratford, where his wife and children were, and which he visited frequently, he was a well known and highly respected businessman and property owner.
The American President Abraham Lincoln was a great lover of Shakespeare’s plays and frequently recited from them to his friends. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a famous Shakespearean actor. Although it was illegal to be a Catholic in Shakespeare’s lifetime, the Anglican Archdeacon, Richard Davies of Litchfield, who had known him wrote some time after Shakespeare’s death that he had been a Catholic. Candles were very expensive in Shakespeare’s time so they were used only for emergencies, for a short time.
Most writers wrote in the daytime and socialized in the evenings. There is no reason to think that Shakespeare was any different to his contemporaries. It was illegal for women and girls to perform in the theatre in Shakespeare’s lifetime so all the female parts were written for boys. The text of some plays like Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra refer to that. It was only much later, during the Restoration, that the first woman appeared on the English stage. There are only two Shakespeare plays written entirely in verse: they are Richard II and King John.
Many of the plays have half of the text in prose. Shakespeare wrote many more plays than the ones we know about. It’s certain that he wrote a play titled Cardenas, which has been lost, but scholars think he wrote about twenty that have gone without a trace. Shakespeare’s shortest play, The Comedy of Errors is only a third of the length of his longest, Hamlet, which takes four hours to perform. Two of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, have been translated into Klingon.
The Klingon Language Institute plans to translate more. All Uranus’ satellites are named after Shakespearean characters. William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of ‘I am a weakfish speller’. Shakespeare’s original grave marker showed him holding a bag of grain. Citizens of Stratford replaced the bag with a quill in 1747. “William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.
Subject: Anne Hathaway,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 September 2016
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