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The Discrepancies of Shakespeare
Shakespeare is a world renowned playwright. Most people could describe at least of one of his plays, poems, or sonnets. However, not many people can recall the details of his personal life. Some may know that he was married, while others believe that he gay. Since there are so many discrepancies concerning William Shakespeare, it can no longer be determined what the facts are and what is fiction.
The discrepancies that involve Shakespeare start with his father. John Shakespeare had come to live in Stratford-upon-Avon, working as a glove maker. However, John had a long line of jobs. He was a wool dealer and was involved in money-lending (www.shakespeare.org). Besides these he was a whittawer, which is a white-leather worker, and a general agricultural dealer (Hunter WP). According to John Aubrey, an English writer from Shakespeare’s time, John was a butcher. To add to all of this, research shows that John was a prominent citizen, and a “highly successful and respected man of high status” (http: John held many public official positions. He served on the town council for many years, maintained the position of justice of the peace, and became Bailiff, the equivalent of a modern day mayor, in 1568, (www.shakespeare.org). Now, how could a man who couldn’t write, (http:, hold so many different positions? From butcher to a glove maker to being involved with money-lending to Bailiff, how can one tell what is true and which is made up to improve the story of where William Shakespeare came from?
John married Mary Arden in 1557 (Hunter WP). She came from a wealthy family who paid a “handsome dowry to marry her off,” (http: Now this increase in John’s funds could explain how he eventually went from glove maker to Bailiff. However, there were numerous years that passed between his increase of funds and his honorable title, that it is highly doubtful.
William Shakespeare was the third child that Mary bore John, but he was the first to live past early childhood. Shakespeare was born in April of 1564, but the exact date of his arrival is not known. Since the rate of infant mortality was high, babies were baptized within two or three days of their birth. Shakespeare was baptized on the 26th of April (Epstein, 22). So, it is assumed that Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564. However, he could have been born on the 24th or the 22nd. In fact, he could have been born on the 25th and there just happened to be a baptismal on the 26th. There are so many possibilities that one must wonder if it is right to assume a date.
Nobody knows if Shakespeare went to school or not. There are no records that Shakespeare ever attended school. However, since no records of anyone’s school attendance were generally kept, there is no evidence against it. It is supposed, because he was the son of a leading townsman, that he attended the King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford. Here, his education would have consisted of a thorough knowledge of Latin, logic and rhetoric and also history, which would have been mainly classical, (http: could explain Shakespeare’s knowledge of history for his plays. If William had attended school, it is probable that he left at about the age of fourteen.
William had the example of his father’s success and the standing of his mother as a gentlewoman to ignite his own ambition, and it was while he was young that his father was at the height of his influence.
Then, the fortunes of his father mysteriously failed as he appeared to fall into financial difficulties which led him to default on his attendance at council meetings. As for William, it is very likely that he became apprenticed to his father’s business. This is because it was the custom for young men, in those days, to follow in their father’s footsteps. The best way for a young man to learn his father’s trade was to become an apprentice to his father. John’s business was in Stratford, which was a thriving market town. The town attracted all sorts of travelers including the troupes of itinerant players of the kind that he later became associated with in London. In 1572 and 1575 Queen Elizabeth I passed close by to Stratford via Charlecote, on her visits to and from Kenilworth and Shakespeare would have had the opportunity to see at close quarters the manners of the court. (Hunter, WP)
Worcester records the marriage of Willelmum Shaxpere, in 1582. (Throughout his lifetime, Shakespeare’s name was variously spelt. Shaxpere was one of the ways his name is recorded.) William was eighteen and his bride was either twenty-six or twenty-eight. There is a debate there. Some sources say she was eight years his elder, while others claim she was ten years older. Some discrepancies also exist concerning the bride’s name. The church register reads “Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton,” but the bond for the marriage, issued the next day, lists the bride as “Anne Hathwey of Stratford,” (Epstein, 23). The reason is most likely that the priest was in a rush or heard the couple wrong. Anna Hathaway and William were married by special license.
The next known record of Shakespeare explains the rush the couple had to get to the altar. On May 26, six months after their marriage, Susanna Shakespeare was christened, (Epstein, 23). Two years later, in February, twins, Judith and Hamnet, were born. William was not yet twenty-one. (Hunter, WP)
Between the years 1585 and 1592 there is considerable doubt about Shakespeare’s activities, because there are no official records of him. This period in his life is known as “the lost years” or “the hidden years”. Numerous theories abound as to what he did during this time. It is speculated that Shakespeare was a money lender, gardener, sailor, scrivener, tutor, coachman, soldier, painter, school master, lawyer and clerk. All of this is believed because of the wide range of knowledge revealed in his plays. (Epstein, 24) It can also be believed that he became a butcher’s apprentice. Why he left his family so suddenly cannot be explained, though popular folklore would have it that Shakespeare, along with several others, was caught poaching a deer on land owned by magistrate Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote Park. In order to escape the consequences, it is said that he ran away to London, though this is probably a rather fanciful tale (http:
It can be said that Shakespeare was bi-sexual. Modern day school teachers may introduce Shakespeare’s sonnets as passionate love lyrics but neglect to mention that some of these sonnets were written to a man. While many scholars read the poems as expressions of male friendship, there is no denying that they were addressed to a young man. Sonnet 20 suggests his sexual attraction to a young man. He ends the sonnet with:
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she pricked thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love’s use their treasure.
Basically he says, “Give women your body; I’ll take your mind” (Epstein, 267). He states the fact that the man was original created for a woman, but now, after they have had sex, they belong together. If Shakespeare can only have the man by sharing him with women, then so be it.
There is one more factor that needs to be put into play here. There are 4,000 ways to spell Shakespeare’s name according to English orthography. Addition to this, throughout Shakespeare’s lifetime, his name was variously spelled as Shagsbere, Shakespeare, Shaxpere, Shackespere, Shaxpeare, Shakesspeare, and Shakspeare (Epstein, 35). So, it can be said that there was one Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, who was married to Anna Hathaway, while there was a homosexual Shakespeare in London. In fact, there could have been several writers in London, who claimed the name Shakespeare to rise to fame, but did not know the spelling of the name, so they decided to spell it their own way.
There are so many discrepancies concerning William Shakespeare, it can no longer be determined what the facts are and what is fiction. How could the son of a man who could not read, become one of the greatest playwrights known to the modern day world? Nobody knows if Shakespeare had schooling or not, or even if the Shakespeare that grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon is the famous playwright. Whether or not the married Shakespeare and the one that was in love with a man are one and the same is yet to be determined. The list of discrepancies is never ending and the possibilities of explanations for each discrepancy are limitless. This makes it very hard to determine the facts of Shakespeare and forces one realize that there are just some things that one will never know the truths of.
Works Cited Page

1.     About Shakespeare: William Shakespeare: An outline of his life.      (online) Available world wide web:      http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/about_shake.htm
2.     Eastman, Arthur M. A Short History of Shakespearean Criticism.
New York: Random House, 1968.
3.     Epstein, Norrie. The Friendly Shakespeare. New York: Boates           books.
4.     Hunter, Elizabeth. (1999, September). William Shakespeare: His      life in Context (1999) (online) Available world wide web:      http://www.stratford-upon-avon.co.uk/wslife.htm
5.     McElroy, Bernard. Shakespeare’s Mature Tragedies. Princeton,      New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1973.
6.     Quennell, Peter. Shakespeare. Cleveland: World Publishing      Company, 1963.
7.     William Shakespeare. (online) Available world wide web:

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