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Life Of Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper

William Shakespeare:

If only he really did look as good as Joseph Fiennes…

On April 13, 1564, the greatest writer to ever inhabit the Earth was born. Well, okay, we

aren?t exactly sure it was April 13. It could have been the 12th… or the 14th… maybe even the

15th. But we do know he was baptized on April 16th, so most historians think it was the 13th.

Okay, I just totally ruined my entrance. Can I start again?

On April 13, (or 12 or 14 or 15) 1564, the greatest writer to ever inhabit the Earth was

born. William Shakespeare, citizen of Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Son of John Shakespeare,

a respected glove-maker who held several local government offices, and Mary Arden, daughter of

a farming family with a respectable name. He was the third of eight children. Nothing eventful

has been discovered about his childhood. In fact, I only found one thing: at the age of seven he

attended the Startford Grammar School along with the other middle-class boys.

When Shakespeare turned eighteen, he decided it was high time to settle down… or at

least to get a wife. The lucky woman was Anne Hathaway, daughter of a farmer. Apparently,

dating younger men was cool back then too (she was twenty-six). They were married in

November of 1582. A few months later a daughter, Susanna, was born to them, followed by a set

of twins two years later, Hamnet (who, sadly, died at age eleven) and Judith.

The next period of Shakespeare?s life is known to historians as ?The Lost Years?. There

is absolutely no record of anything he did. I managed to dig up two possible explanations:

Shakespeare was caught poaching in Charlecote Park, so he decided to escape to London to

avoid persecution. The other, more plausible, idea was that he was a schoolmaster for some

years. Whatever the case, ?The Lost Years? ended when Shakespeare moved to London to begin

his acting career, leaving the wife behind (great role model for the kids).

Shakespeare began his theatrical education by joining a repertory theatre company,

basically a permanent company who presents a variety of plays week after week. He must have

been doing something right because by 1592 he was quite well-known. Well-known enough to

receive criticism from jealous fellow actors. Most famous is this pearl of wisdom from

Robert Greene:

?…an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his ?tiger?s heart

wrapped in a player?s hide? [reference to Henry VI, Part II] supposes he is as

well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an

absolute Johannes fac totum [Johnny do everything] in his own conceit the only

Shake-scene in the country.?

The plague struck from 1592-1594, forcing all theatres closed. During this time

Shakespeare started work on his poetry, printing his first two works, Venus and Adonis and Rape

of Lucrece in 1593 and 1594, respectively.

When the plague lifted, Shakespeare returned to the theatre as both a stockholder and an

actor. He helped create the acting company Lord Chamberlain?s Men, with Richard Burbage as

the star actor. In another business venture, he became the co-owner of the outdoor Globe

Theatre in 1599, marking the start of his wealth. 1599-1608 was all about writing, and

Shakespeare was darn good at it too. He began writing two plays a year, and some of his best

works were from this period: Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Henry V, Antony and

Cleopatra, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, and Othello. The fact that Shakespeare enjoyed

writing plays for audiences with strong social only served to enhance his appeal. In 1601,

Shakespeare?s father died, and Shakespeare inherited the right to dress as a gentleman, though

playwrighting was not on f the most highly regarded occupations at the time. Not only was he

rich, he could now dress the part as well. 1603 brought King James I as the royal patron to Lord

Chamberlain?s Men, now naming them ?King?s Men?. Another big property investment arose in

1609, this time an indoor theatre, Blackfriars. By 1612, Shakespeare was England?s most popular


Shakespeare wrote his last play in 1613, Henry VIII. He then retired to

Stratford-upon-Avon, his birthplace, which would also be his final resting place. On April 13,

(not the 12th, 14th, nor 15th) 1616, William Shakespeare died.

Though most people aren?t aware of it, William Shakespeare was more than just a writer.

He had a vast knowledge of music, law, the Bible, military science, art, politics, the sea, history,

hunting, woodcraft, and sports, and yet his only professional experience was in theatre. He wrote

thirty-seven plays. He also contributed a number of the phrases to the English language: ?fair

play?, ?a foregone conclusion?, ?catch cold?, ?disgraceful?, ?conduct?, ?assassination?, ?bump?,

?eventful?, and ?lonely?. He lives on through his work, which stands to be the most translated

literature ever, save the Bible.

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