Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-avon. His mother’s name was Mary Arden, a member of the gentry. His father’s name was John Glover Shakespeare, a commoner. John tried to regain their position in society by getting a coat of arms, but was rejected three times. William later, after achieving his fame, received a coat of arms known as Not without right that was in the shape of a shield. At the tender age of 14, (1578) William was apprenticed to a butcher. At 17, (1581) he was a liberteen, or a very wild and rambunctious teen. In 1582, between the ages
of 18 and 19, William met Ann Hathaway, 26, and she became pregnant. The two got married and had a little girl named Suzanna, who later married a doctor, Thomas Nash. They also were blessed with twins, Judith (Juliet) and Hamnet (Hamlet). They both died before adulthood.
William was no super model. He was bald, had the unattractive brown hair for the time, and was a country bumpkin. Although he had these unfavorable physical characteristics, he was still able to have many affairs behind his wife’s back. In London especially, he had many affairs and was a wild party guy. Ann didn’t like her husband’s ways and was constantly nagging him. Because of her nagging, William left her their second best bed and nothing more. People don’t know whether it was a sentimental
gesture or just for spite.
In 1588, Comedy of Errors was written, which is said to be his first play. 1588-1612 were known as his London days. He left Stratford at the age of 24 and went to London first, to get away from his wife, and second, because he was wanted for poaching deer at Charlcote Manner. In London he joined a theatrical society known as Lord Chamberlin’s Men. William’s patron was Lord Chamberlin. William was considered a low comedian during these times. Tragedians were considered great, but comedy was
low. In this theatrical society, William conducted his stage career, but he was quite drunk much of the time. One night, he was even found under a tree in which he had fallen in a drunken stupor and forgotten where he was. His affairs were abundant and he was known as the country bumpkin from Stratford. Christopher Marlow influenced Shakespeare’s tragedies and was also a rival. Ben Johnson influenced Shakespeare’s comedies. In 1592, he was a successful playwright and actor. He wrote dramas, played
cool parts, but never published any of his plays. In 1593, Venus of Adonis was published. 1594-1610 he acted and wrote plays on an average of two a year. In 1597, he bought a home in Stratford. 1602-he bought a large estate. 1609-published some sonnets in a collection. 1612-retired to Stratford. On March 23, 1616, William wrote his will and on April 23, 1616 he died.
Richard Burbage was one of the original tragic actors in Shakespeare’s plays. He was a guiding light of the project to edit and publish all of William’s work. The Globe Theater was where all of his plays were performed.
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