Life's but a Walking Shadow Biography of William Shakespeare by Ivy Peoples

Not much is known of Shakespeare's early years. He was assumed to be born around April 23, 1564, just before his baptising on April 26, 1564. He was born and raised in Stratford-Upon-Avon (pictured in the background) by John Shakespeare and Mary Arden (pictured below).

William Shakespeare was the third of six children in his family. He had two older sisters (Joan and Judith) and three younger brothers (Gilbert, Richard, and Edmund). His father became a successful merchant and was granted the title of alderman and bailiff, a position similar to mayor. This would later help Shakespeare with a free tuition to King Edward VI's Grammar School in Stratford.

At the age of 18, William married Anne Hathaway. When they married, Hathaway was seven to eight years his senior and pregnant with a child, Susanna. In 1585, William and Anne had twins and named them Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet would later die at the age of eleven in 1596. Susanna would marry a doctor, John Hall, and give birth to Elizabeth, Shakespeare's granddaughter. Elizabeth was born just months from Shakespeare's death day. Judith would marry Thomas Quiney, a vintner. No son passed on Shakespeare's name.

Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith

While Anne spent her days living in Stratford, William Shakespeare moved to London to pursue his theater career or to escape a dying marriage. No evidence has proven the latter, though no evidence has dismissed it, either. Then again, all of those going into the theatrical careers had little choice in moving to London.

Shakespeare's style of writing was typical of the day. He wrote in long, winded metaphors and sarcastic phrasing that didn't quite make sense in the context. Shakespeare, however, added his own stamp of uniqueness to the style with a looser way of communicating to the audience. He also used blank verse, a metrical pattern consisting of lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter. Some passages, though, do stray from that pattern and shift to something more poetic or prose.

The majority of Shakespeare's early works were histories and comedies. Examples of comedies he wrote include: A Midsummer's Night Dream (pictured above) and Much Ado About Nothing. Examples of histories he wrote include: Richard II (pictured below) and Henry IV.

Similar in how the earlier works fell into two majority categories, Shakespeare's later works consisted mainly of tragedies and tragicomedies. Some of his tragedies were Othello (pictured above) and King Lear. Some of his tragicomedies were The Tempest and Cymbeline (pictured below).

Recurring themes appear in many of Shakespeare's works such as: death, guilt, power, corruption, deception, betrayal, good and evil, ambition, love, hate, suffering, revenge, insanity, reality, fear, and no fear. All of these themes, plus some, persist in Shakespeare's writings throughout his early and later years of play writing.

Shakespeare was faced with many hardships. He suffered through a lack of funds and resources, the bubonic plague taking lives of many close to him, criticism, and hate. Additionally, Shakespeare's plays would take place during the day so people would have to leave their jobs to attend. The theater was also not very clean which would spread diseases easily. Both caused fear in people and forced them to not attend Shakespeare's plays.

"William Shakespeare - Poet | Academy of American Poets -" Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.

"William Shakespeare - Poet, Playwright -" 5 Jul. 2016, Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.

Shakespeare's Life | Folger Shakespeare Library." Accessed 9 Jan. 2017.

Created By
Ivy Peoples


Created with images by tonynetone - "William Shakespeare" • ell brown - "Shakespeare's Birthplace - Stratford upon Avon" • steveczajka - "William Shakespeare"

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