The Life Of Shakespeare Essay Research Paper

The Life Of Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper Brown 1 The Life of William Shakespeare William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his lifetime. These plays included

The Life Of Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper

Brown 1

The Life of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his lifetime. These plays included

comedies, histories, and tragedies. The plays contain vivid characters of all types and

from many walks of life (World Book I). Shakespeare’s works contain kings,

pickpockets, drunkards, generals, hired killers, shepherds, and philosophers.

Shakespeare’s plays have been divided into four different periods of which he wrote plays.

The first period lasted from 1590 to 1594. In this period he wrote Comedy of Errors,

Henry VI, Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen

of Verona, and King John. The second period lasted from 1595 to 1600 and contained A

Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo and Juliet, The

Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, As You Like It, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About

Nothing, Twelfth Night , and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida,

All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Timon of

Athens, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus were written in the third period,

from 1601 to 1608. The fourth period, 1609 to 1613, had the plays Cymbeline, The

Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, and Henry VIII written. No other writer’s plays have been

produced so many times or so widely in so many countries (World Book I).

Shakespeare was born into a middle class family in the town of

Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. Shakespeare’s father was John Shakespeare, a local shop

owner who held many positions in the local government. William Shakespeare’s mother

was Mary Arden Shakespeare. She was married to John in 1557. Mary was the daughter

of a local farmer, but had wealthy relatives. William was the third of eight children.

Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564.

At age seven, William began attending the Stratford grammar school with other

boys of his age and social class. The school’s teachers were graduates of Oxford

University. William and his classmates spent nine hours a day in class. The students

Brown 2

attended year round except for three or four short holiday periods. The school had strict

discipline and physically punished students who were bad. William mainly studied Latin

while at grammar school.

In November 1582, at the age of 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. Anne

was 26 and was the daughter of a farmer who lived a mile from Stratford. William and

Anne had three children. Their first child was baptized on May 26, 1583 and was named

Susanna. On February 2, 1585 Hamnet, a boy, and Judith, a girl, were baptized.

After the children were born Shakespeare went to London. After arriving in

London, Shakespeare joined a repertory theater company. Scholars do not know which

theater company or companies Shakespeare joined before 1594 (World Book 3). These

companies consisted of a permanent cast of actors who presented a variety of plays week

after week (World Book 3). Shakespeare became a sharer, or stockholder, of a company

called the Lord Chamberlan’s Men in 1594. The Lord Chamberlan’s Men was one of the

most popular acting companies in London (World Book 3). Shakespeare was a leading

member of the group for the rest of his career. By the end of 1594 at least six of

Shakespeare’s plays had been produced.From 1592 to 1594 London authorities often

closed the public theaters because of repeated outbreaks of plague. During this time

Shakespeare wrote many poems.

The first theater Shakespeare performed in was the “Theatre.” He discussed the

idea with some friends and drew up a plan, and found financial backing. In the year 1576

there was built the first permanent professional public paly-house of the modern world

(Hodges 50). We do not know for certain what the Theatre looked like (Hodges 51). In

1598 the land lease on the Theatre had expired. They leased a plot of land in an area

known as the Bankside (Wright 75). A few days after Christmas in 1598, the Theatre was

torn down and its lumber was carted across the river to the Bankside (Wright 75). The

lumber was reassembled and the new play-house was named “The Globe.” The Globe

Brown 3

looked the same as the Theatre except its emblem, which appeared on a sign in front of

the main entrance. It showed the Greek god Hercules supporting a world globe on his

shoulders. On the emblem was inscribed a Latin motto, Totus mundus agil histrionem,

which stands for “all the world is a stage.”

In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and was succeeded by her cousin James I. James

issued a royal license to Shakespeare and his fellow players, which allowed the company

to call itself the King’s Men. In return for the license, the actors entertained the king at

court on a more or less regular basis (World Book 4). The King’s Men became the best

theatrical group.

During the last eight years of his life Shakespeare wrote only four plays,

Cymbeline, Henry VIII, The Tempest , and The Winter’s Tale. Henry VIII was

Shakespeare’s last play and can be dated to about 1613. On February 10, 1616,

Shakespeare’s younger daughter, Judith married Thomas Quincey, the son of his Stratford

neighbor Richard Quincey (World Book 4). Six weeks after the marriage Shakespeare

revised his will. Within a month of revising his will he died at the age of 52. He was buried

in the Stratford parish church. His monument records the day of death as April 23, the

generally accepted date of his birth (World Book 4). Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, died in

1596 at the age of 11. Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna had one child, Elizabeth, who bore

no children. Judith gave birth to three boys, but they died before she did. Shakespeare’s

last direct descendent, his granddaughter, Elizabeth, died in 1670. As result of these

deaths, today there lives no descendants of the world’s greatest playwright.