Shakespeare is acclaimed to be the greatest playwright of all time among many. Knowledge of his early life, middle life, and latter life are essential to understand how he came to be.
QUOTE 1: "William Shakespeare was born in the small market town of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, the third of eight children. The register of Holy Trinity, the parish church in Stratford, records his baptism on April 26. According to the custom at that time, infants were baptized about three days after their birth. Therefore, the generally accepted date for Shakespeare’s birth is April 23" (Lander).
COMMENTARY: William Shakespeare was born in the small town of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. He was the third of eight children. The records of his baptism at the parish church in Stratford, Holy Trinity, show that he was baptized on April 26. The custom at this time, infants were baptized three days after birth. Hence, April 23 is the date generally accepted for Shakespeare's birth. Not much is known about Shakespeare's birth. He was born to a big family.
QUOTE 2:“The Shakespeares were a family of considerable local prominence. In 1565, John Shakespeare became an alderman. Three years later, he was elected bailiff (mayor), the highest civic honor that a Stratford resident could receive. Later, he held several other civic posts. But toward the end of his life, John Shakespeare had financial problems.Beginning at about the age of 7, William probably attended the Stratford grammar school with other boys of his social class. The school’s highly qualified teachers were graduates of Oxford University. Students spent about nine hours a day in school. They attended classes the year around, except for three brief holiday periods. The teachers enforced strict discipline and physically punished students who broke the rules. The students chiefly studied Latin, the language of ancient Rome. Knowledge of Latin was necessary for a career in medicine, law, or the church. In addition, the ability to read Latin was considered a sign of an educated person. Young Shakespeare may have read such outstanding ancient Roman authors as Cicero, Ovid, Plautus, Seneca, Terence, and Virgil.In spite of the long hours he spent in school, Shakespeare’s boyhood was probably not all boring study. As a market center, Stratford was a lively town. In addition, holidays provided popular pageants and shows, including plays about the legendary outlaw Robin Hood and his merry men. By 1569, traveling companies of professional actors were performing in Stratford. Stratford also held two large fairs each year, which attracted numerous visitors from other counties. For young Shakespeare, Stratford could thus have been an exciting place to live.Stratford also offered other pleasures. The fields and woods surrounding the town provided opportunities to hunt and trap small game. The River Avon, which ran through the town, had fish to catch. Shakespeare’s poems and plays show a love of nature and rural life. This display undoubtedly reflects his childhood experiences and his love of the Stratford countryside" (Lander).
COMMENTARY: The Shakespeare family was a family of considerable importance. Starting at the age of about 7, William attended the Stratford grammar school with other boys who are in his social class. Students spent about nine hours in school a day. They attended classes year-round except three short holiday periods. The teachers enforced strict discipline and physically punished students who defied the rules. The student studied Latin. Knowledge of Latin was essential if the student wanted a career in medicine, law, or the church. Also, being able to read Latin was considered a sign of a knowledgeable person. Hey may have also read some impressive authors such as Cicero, Ovid, Plautus, Seneca, Terence, and Virgil. This shows that Shakespeare's family wanted William to be well educated. It also represents that he had a very strict and demanding early life. This is most likely how his career got started.
QUOTE 3: "At the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than he was. Sometime after the birth of their second and third children (twins), Shakespeare moved to London, apparently leaving has family in Stratford" (Anderson).
COMMENTARY: He married at the age of eighteen. After the birth of his twins, Shakespeare moved to London, leaving his family in Stratford, This shows that Shakespeare didn't prioritize or possibly even remember his family. He might've done this to pursue a job.
MIDDLE LIFE AND CAREER:
QUOTE 4:"The next mention of Shakespeare is in 1592, when he was an actor and playwright in London. His actions during the seven-year interim have been a matter of much curious speculation, including unproved stories of deer poaching, soldiering, and teaching. It may have taken him those seven years simply to break into and advance in the London theater. His early connections with the theater are unknown, although he was an actor before he became a playwright" (Branam).
COMMENTARY: Not much was known about Shakespeare during this time. In fact, these years were known as "lost years" as there was no information found about his life during this time period. His name again arose in 1592, when his career began. Shakespeare was most likely speculating what he wanted to do during these years. He could've been pondering or maybe even being taught.
QUOTE 5: "In 1594 Shakespeare became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlain's Men, the company that later became the King's Men under James I. Until the end of his London career Shakespeare remained with the company; it is thought that as an actor he played old men's roles, such as the ghost in Hamlet and Old Adam in As You Like It. In 1596 he obtained a coat of arms, and by 1597 he was prosperous enough to buy New Place in Stratford, which later was the home of his retirement years. In 1599 he became a partner in the ownership of the Globe theatre, and in 1608 he was part owner of the Blackfriars theatre. Shakespeare retired and returned to Stratford c.1613. He undoubtedly enjoyed a comfortable living throughout his career and in retirement, although he was never a wealthy man." (Lagasse).
COMMENTARY: His career started quickly and successfully and he became a great and valuable asset to the theatrical company, the Lord Chamberlain's men. It is believed he played old men roles. Shakespeare became very successful quickly. This shows that he was a very talented person.
QUOTE 6: "Shakespeare worked with his company for the rest of his writing life. Year after year he provided it with plays, almost on demand. Shakespeare was the ultimate professional writer. He had a theater that needed plays, actors who needed parts, and a family who needed to be fed" (Anderson).
COMMENTARY: Shakespeare worked with his company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, for a long time and made it very successful. He produced and provided plays for the company almost on demand. He was very talented because he could provide plays on demand without any trouble. This shows that Shakespeare was truly a special, talented, and different type of playwright.
QUOTE 7: "It was a large, round building, three stories high, with a large platform stage that projected from one end into a yard open to the sky. In the back wall of this stage was a curtained-off inner stage. Flanking the inner stage were two doors for entrances and exits. Above this inner stage was a small balcony or upper stage, which could be used to suggest Juliet's balcony or the high walls of a castle or the bridge of a ship. Trapdoors were placed in the floor of the main stage for the entrances and exits of ghosts and descents into hell" (Anderson).
COMMENTARY: The Globe was a very well constructed theater. It was large, round, and was three stories high. It had a platform that projected one end into a yard open to the sky. In the back wall of this stage, there was an inner stage that was curtained-off. Above this was a balcony or upper stage which can be used to represent different situations such as a high wall of a castle. Trapdoors were also placed in the floor of the main stage to represent the entrances and exits of ghosts and descents into hell. The Globe was very well thought out and well constructed. It allowed for dynamic plays and the building of the Globe showed that his career was doing really well.
LATE LIFE AND CAREER
QUOTE 8: "By 1612, when he returned to Stratford to live the life of a prosperous retired gentleman, Shakespeare had written thirty-seven plays...Shakespeare had written thirty-seven plays, including such masterpieces as Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth" (Anderson).
COMMENTARY: He retired in Stratford by 1612 after a very successful career. At the end of his career he had written thirty seven plays, many were considered masterpieces. He had a exceptional and prosperous career. Shakespeare created many masterpieces that are still appreciated to this day.
QUOTE 9: "During his last eight years, Shakespeare was the sole author of only three plays—Cymbeline,The Tempest, and The Winter’s Tale. He collaborated with John Fletcher, another English dramatist, in writing three more plays. In the past, some scholars argued that The Tempest, written about 1610, was Shakespeare’s last play. Such a theory was encouraged by the presence in the play of passages that sound like a farewell to the stage. However, in 1612 and 1613, Shakespeare worked closely with Fletcher, who replaced him as the chief dramatist for the King’s Men, on Cardenio (now lost), King Henry VIII, and Two Noble Kinsmen. In addition, Shakespeare purchased a house in the Blackfriars district of London in 1613. The evidence thus suggests that Shakespeare gradually reduced his activity in London rather than ending it abruptly. By 1612, Shakespeare had become England’s most successful playwright. He apparently divided his time between Stratford and London. He had lodgings in London at least until 1604 and probably until 1611. Such family events as his daughter Susanna’s marriage in 1607 and his mother’s death in 1608 would likely have called him back to Stratford. By 1612, he may have spent much of his time in the comforts of New Place in Stratford" (Lander).
COMMENTARY: He only produced three plays during the last eight years of his life which were Cymbeline, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale. He divided his time between London and Stratford. Shakespeare steadily reduced his plays rather than ending it abruptly. When he retired in 1612, he had become England's most successful playwright. This shows that Shakespeare's work was very admirable and very appreciated as he became the most successful playwright in England.
QUOTE 10: "Shakespeare's plays are still produced all over the world. During a Broadway season in the 1980's, one critic estimated that if Shakespeare were alive, he would be receiving $25,000 a week in royalties for a production of Othello alone. The play was attracting larger audiences than any other non musical production in town. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 at the age of fifty-two. He is buried under the old stone floor in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. Carved over his grave is the following verse (the spelling has been modernized): Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear To dig the dust enclosed here! Blessed be the man that spares these stones And cursed be he that moves my bones" (Anderson).
COMMENTARY: Shakespeare's plays are still produced around the world which shows that his plays were truly one of a kind. If he were still alive, he'd make an abundance of money. The production of Othello in the 1980's attracted larger audiences than any other non musical production in town. Shakespeare died at the age of fifty-two on April 23, 1616. Shakespeare is buried under the old stone floor located in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, his birthplace. There is a curse directed towards anyone who attempts to move his bones carved on his grave. He is predicted to have been very successful had he still been living today. Shakespeare has had a long lasting influence on plays.
Anderson, Robert. “Shakespeare and His Theater: A Perfect Match”
Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards:
Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin,
Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003.
Anderson, Robert. “Shakespeare and His Theater: A Genius from Stratford.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003.
Branam, Harold. “William Shakespeare.” Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia (2016): Topic Overviews 612. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.
Lagasse, Paul. The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed., New York, Columbia UP, 2000. 6 Dec. 2016
Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.