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William Shakespeare Biography and His Works

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Shakespeare, with little known history without assuming is someone who everyone knows of. Shakespeare was a playwright of many plays and poems also a person who created 1,700 words people still use. With using words Shakespeare created it isn’t a surprise that people are still witnessing Shakespeare’s work today! Shakespeare is not dead.

William Shakespeare was born in April of 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars don’t have an exact date of Shakespeare’s birth, but there is a baptism report from the Holy Trinity Church in London. Shakespeare’s baptism date was April 26, 1564. The town of Stratford-upon-Avon  back in Shakespeare’s day was a “handsome small market town” with the population of around 1,500 people . Like Shakespeare’s birth records there aren’t many documents on his childhood and nearly none about Shakespeare’s education. What scholars pieced together through the years is that Shakespeare attended the King’s New School, which taught him reading, writing, and the classics .

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Shakespeare was the third child of six. He followed two older sisters Joan and Judith then had three younger brothers Gilbert, Richard, and Edmund, all children of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. He and his family came from a poorer household until the late 1970s when Shakespeare’s father was given a position as alderman and bailiff, resembling a mayor position of Stratford-upon-Avon. However, his father lost his wealth from unknown reasons just a few years later,

When Shakespeare reached the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582. When they married, she was pregnant with Shakespeare’s first child, a girl who would be named Susanna born on May 26, 1583. Just two years later, on February 2, 1585, Shakespeare fathered twins named Judith (after Shakespeare’s sister) and Hamnet. Shakespeare had an unfortunate event sometime is August 1596 with the death of his only son Hamnet at age 11.

After the birth of his twins in 1585, Shakespeare went off the record for seven years. These seven years are known to scholars as the “lost years.” A lot of speculation has been discussed regarding this time period. One theory is that Sir Thomas Lucy, Shakespeare’s landlord, scared Shakespeare, who was avoiding confrontation, into hiding. The second theory, which is generally believed, is that Shakespeare found his way into London and started working for a local horse attendant for London’s finer theatres.

Scholars have records from the early 1590s that show that Shakespeare was a managing partner for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men “William Shakespeare Biography.” The Lord Chamberlain’s Men is an acting company out of London where Shakespeare spent most of his career. The company eventually changed its name to the “King’s Men” in 1603, after the crowning of Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish cousin King James the first. In The Complete Works of Shakespeare the King’s men are referred to as the King’s Servants.

The King’s Men company became popular after the crowning of King James I. Records from the 16th century show that the theatre society was not highly admired by the community or even the higher ranks. The King’s Men grew in popularity, allowing them to lease a new theatre, the Blackfriars, which was built for the winter performances. Other play-writers’ works typically less favored than Shakespeare’s work, which was in high demand. Shakespeare’s works were popular even though people hated theatre. His plays were usually published and even sold for profit.

In 1588, England defeated the Spanish Armanda and became the center of the theatre world. After the war, Queen Elizabeth I supported the theatre society and helped it flourish. Poet Edward Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and other writers were invited to visit the royal court because the Queen was such a fan of poetry, pageants and plays. Since more people began to appreciate theatre, nearly 200,000 people would rush to London to get a taste.

Many critics from Shakespeare’s time would bash Shakespeare’s writing or complement his writing abilities. On September 20, 1592, The Stationers’ Register (a guild publication) published an article by Robert Greene “‘…There is an upstart Crow, Beautified without feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country,’. Some scholars interpreted Greene’s remarks as a compliment; other scholars believe that Greene referred to Shakespeare’s writings bitterly while focusing on the “upstart Crow.” Either way, Shakespeare’s plays were so popular that the Queen herself went to watch Shakespeare’s shows while throwing Greene’s comment out the door.

Shakespeare’s fame helped financially build the Globe Theatre. This money also helped purchase Shakespeare’s house called, “New Place,” and paid for his father to obtain a coat of arms to up his fathers social status. The Globe Theatre was built in 1599. The theatre was a short-lived building with a 17 year-old life span. Then, the theatre was destroyed when it burnt down in the middle of a performance. The Globe Theatre was quickly rebuilt, but, once again, it lived a short life of 30 years before it was torn down once again in 1544.

Shakespeare’s reputation for being great was taken for granted. “Anthony Scoloker, for example, in his epistle prefatory to Diaphantus, or The Passions of Love, attempts to describe an excellent literary work in this way: it should be like the Neuer-too-well read Arcadia,… or to come home to the vulgars Element, like Friendly Shakespeare’s Tragedies, where the Comedian rides, when the Tragedian stands on Tip-toe: Faith it should please all, like Prince Hamlet.”

Shakespeare’s “late” years refer to the last eight years of his life, from 1608-1616. After the summer of 1608, Shakespeare’s acting company signed a twenty-one-year lease with the Blackfriars. 1603 was Shakespeare’s last year of acting which was in a play Sejanus by Ben Jonson. Shakespeare’s lat investment in 1613 was to the Blackfriars, London. Then Shakespeare’s records skip forward to March 25, 1616, when his will and testament were finalized by his lawyer, Francis Collins. Shakespeare’s death followed up on April 23, 1616 from unknown causes .

Many scholars, even in today’s society, question Shakespeare’s antics. With knowing Shakespeare’s past to present, it is hard to believe that someone with the same amount of schooling as Shakespeare, was able to write the way he did. “To be, or not to be, that is the question: —Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer — The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,—And by opposing end them.” Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, act III scene 1 line 57.

With Shakespeare’s writing of plays that consisted of comedies tragedies and histories Shakespeare wrote many different poems. Shakespeare has a series of 154 sonnets with a narrative structure with ideals but with an unattainable women. Scholars believe that this unattainable women is about someone other that his wife but others agree that these sonnets are about his wife and how he is too good for her. With many of the sonnets being about anti-love his wife being his one true love is hard to believe .

In Sonnet 29, it tells a story on how a man has such bad luck and how everyone is against the narrator. In the end of the sonnet with the last couplet it declares that he his happy not because he has what he wants and that he is rich. Except he is better than the unfaithful and wealthy kings. Ending the poem with “That then I scorn to change my state with kings.” Shakespeare intended in using the word “state” because it is a pun. It means the emotional well being of the speaker to convince him that he his better off than royalty .

Sonnet 116 is one of Shakespeare’s more famous sonnets with the refusal of love. This sonnet is quite easier for readers to understand with each quatrain trying to specify what love is or what love is not. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments…” Describing on how love is never ending and never unchanging. Shakespeare’s sonnets following this category of love and turmoil Shakespeare goes to write Sonnet 130 .

In Sonnet 130 Shakespeare talks about love with a little humor and how the speaker laughs at this dark skinned woman who is compared poorly to a beautiful goddess. Shakespeare goes to describe that this dark toned woman is still not even as beautiful as nature. “I grant I never saw a goddess go; / My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.” With the speaker directly saying how his mistress in not a goddess is such a rude way. With those three sonnets Shakespeare went to write 151 more sonnets about love and beauty.

Shakespeare’s writing has found its way from the 17th century to modern day with new adaptations like the Lion King being the new Hamlet. Simba is Hamlet, Timon and Pumba are the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Scar is Claudius, Nala is Ophelia and Mufasa is Hamlet’s father. The Lion King even includes the ghost scenes from the original Hamlet. In Hamlet the reader see Hamlet finds out who killed his father as does Simba. With them both frantically trying to take the throne back from their uncles. With Hamlet being rewritten so did Macbeth .

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