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Shakespeare In London Essay, Research Paper

Caldwell 1

William Shakespeare, who arrived in London at a time of a threat of war with Spain, gave Londoners a diversion with his plays and poetry. Shakespeare was formally educated. Shakespeare was brought up in a hard-working family. Shakespeare moved to London and contributed to literature immediately.

Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, was a trader and an owner of property who held a civic office in Stratford (Ludowyk 5). John Shakespeare was a person not of gentle birth, which taught him to be a hard-worker (Ludowyk 5). John was married to Mary Arden. Mary had come from a wealthy and gentle family, unlike John (Ludowyk 6). This made the Shakespeare’s raise their children such as Mary was raised. There were eight children born to John and Mary Shakespeare (Ludowyk 6).

One of the children who was born to John and Mary was William Shakespeare. He was born in 1564 in Stratford, England (Lee 8). The exact date of Shakespeare’s birth is not known, but he was given an official birth date of April 23, 1564. That date was also Saint George’s Day in the Catholic religion. April 23 is an appropriate birthday for Shakespeare because Saint George is the Saint of England and Shakespeare would soon turn into England’s greatest dramatic poet. He was baptized on April 26 at the parish church at Stratford on Avon (Ludowyk 3).

William Shakespeare was not an unlearned and uneducated genius (Ludowyk 7). At this time in history, at the age of seven a boy would go to grammar school whether he was or was not educated in reading and writing. In the time of Shakespeare, grammar

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meant Latin grammar. Grammar was educated by the Lily’s textbook, which was not only used in England but throughout the nation (Rowse 35). The plays Terence and perhaps Plautus were shown to Shakespeare and his class in the lower school (Rowse 37). These two plays may have been what inspired his first comedies. On the other hand the upper school taught logic and rhetoric (Rowse 39). Rhetoric taught Shakespeare different styles of writing (Rowse 39).

History, as well, was taught to Shakespeare in school. History was read for moralizing purposes only. Sallust and Caesar were normally educated throughout various schools. Shakespeare knew Livy’s story about Caesar and about Lucrece. The two most important sources of Shakespeare’s education are the Bible and the Prayer Book (Rowse 40-41).

Some of Shakespeare’s boyhood expedition’s consisted of sports such as the sport of archery. Archery was a main sport in Stratford (Rowse 50). Shakespeare would talk about some sports and hobbies, during his boyhood, in his poetry:

In my schooldays, when I had lost one shaft,

I shot his fellow of the self-same way with more advised watch,

To find the other forth and by adventuring both,

I oft found both (Rowse 50).

In 1582 Shakespeare married ‘Anne Whateley’ of Temple, Crafton. Shakespeare and Anne had a daughter, Susanna, and twins, Hammet and Judith. All of the children were baptized in Stratford church (Ludowyk 3). After Shakespeare got married he

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decided to move to London. Shakespeare, like other men, was drawn to London by the prospect of the fortune to be made there. Shakespeare may have gotten in trouble in Stratford so going to London would be his best bet (Ludowyk 6). Later contacts say that Shakespeare grew to become a “fugitive” once he left Stratford:

Let us pass over the moment of Shakespeare’s arrival in London in 1585,

a fugitive of 21 years of age, and contemplate him after the first anxieties

had been overcome, and he had found employment at the theatres. Here

we are in the region of fact, not fancy. A young man from a provincial

town engaged as prompter’s assistant at a theatre, his duties probably

involving the copying of plays for the use of the actors; what were his

surroundings? What were the circumstances and conditions which existed

objectively to this subjective and unrevealed genius? (Ordish 4)

At the time that Shakespeare moved to London, London was at a threat of war with Spain. The political aspect in London was not very well so the Londoners looked for other ways to socialize. They found a love for poetry and plays and they wanted Shakespeare to provide both for them. There was a demand for plays, and since Shakespeare was educated he would supply them (Ludowyk 7).

Shakespeare may have gone to London because of his fugitive status but he was also going there to work. He must have entered London through Newgate (Horizon 33). The actors of this time acted such as “nomads” did in the time of the Indians. The actors

Caldwell 4

would come in wagons and set up their stages throughout England (Chute 17). Shakespeare tried to excel in both acting and the writing of plays, writing was more excelling (Ludowyk 6). Though Shakespeare was better at writing than acting he decided to continue doing both for some time. Shakespeare belonged to the group that wrote plays as professionals and to the group that translated and acted out the play writes (Ludowyk 22).

At the age of four Shakespeare saw his first play (Chute 11). Ever since the first time that he was exposed to the theatre scene he was given a gift. Most of his writings come from other places in history other than England; Venice, Ahtens, Illyria, France, and classical Rome (Ludowyk 15). It is shown that Shakespeare did write many pieces from other parts of Europe rather than London, England.

Shakespeare wrote ten plays on subjects taken from English history (Knights 5). Four of the ten plays that he wrote are: Richard III, King John, Richard II, and Henry V (Knights 5). Shakespeare deals with other times in history other than just his own (Ludowyk 15). He did not only write great play pieces either. Other than Hamlet none of Shakespeare’s other pieces are a good as his book of sonnets in 1609 (Hubler 3). Though Shakespeare was well known for his sonnet style poetry, it was the Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard who invented the sonnet style.

Shakespeare proved throughout his lifetime, from 1564 to 1616, that he was one of the best writers of all time. William Shakespeare, who arrived in London at a time of a threat of war with Spain, Londoners a diversion with his plays and poetry. Shakespeare was a well-rounded educated, genius who excelled in writing plays and poetry.


Work Cited

1. Chute, Marchette. An Introduction to Shakespeare. New York, American Book-

Stratford Press, Incorporated, 1968.

2. Horizon Magazine Editors. Shakespeare’s England. New York, New York, American Heritage Publishing Company, 1964.

3. Hubler, Edward. The Sense of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. New York, New York, Hill and Wang, 1962.

4. Knights, L.C. Shakespeare: The Histories. Longmans, Green and Company, 1962.

5. Lee, Sidney, ed. A Life of William Shakespeare. Norwood, Mass., The MacMillan Company, 1924.

6. Ludowyk, E.F.C. Understanding Shakespeare. London, N.W., The Cambridge

University Press, 1962.

7. Ordish, T.F. Shakespeare’s London. Williamstown, Mass., Corner House Publishers, 1975.

8. Rowse, A.L., ed. The Annoted Shakespeare. 3 vols. New York, New York, Octavian Books Limited, 1978.

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