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Shakespeare Life Essay Examples

England’s greatest poet and playwright was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, the son
of a tradesman and Alderman of Stratford, John Shakespeare in 1564. William, the
eldest son, and third child (of eight) was baptised on 26th April 1564 and
probably educated at Stratford Grammar School, but little is known of his life
up to his eighteenth year. He did not go to University and his younger
contemporary and fellow-dramatist, Ben Johnson, would later speak disparagingly
of his “small Latin, and less Greek” in the eulogy prefaced to the

Firs Folio. However the Grammar School curriculum would have provided a
formidable linguistic, and to some extent literary, education. Although, in 1575
when he was eleven, there was a great plague in the country and Queen Elizabeth
journeyed out of London to avoid its consequences and stayed for several days at

Kenilworth Castle near Stratford enjoying “festivities” arranged by
her host Lord Leicester. It is probable these events may have made a strong
impact on the mind of young William. At the age of Eighteen, he married Anne

Hathaway, eight years his senior. Five years later he left for London. William
worked at the Globe Theatre and appeared in many small parts. He first appeared
in public as a poet in 1593 with his Venus and Adonis and the following year
with The Rape of Lucrece. He became joint proprietor of The Globe and also had
an interest in the Blackfriars Theatre. The play writing commenced in 1595 and
of the 38 plays that comprise the Shakespeare Cannon, 36 were published in the

1st Folio of 1623, of which 18 had been published in his lifetime in what are
termed the Quarto publications. Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Comedy of Errors
appear to be among the earliest, being followed by The Two Gentlemen of Verona
and Romeo and Juliet. Then followed Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II, Titus

Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, The Merchant of Venice, A

Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well that Ends Well, Henry IV, The Merry Wives of

Windsor, Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, As you like it, Twelth Night, Julius

Caesar, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Measure for Measure, Macbeth,

King Lear, Timon of Athens, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus,

Cymbeline, A Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

When he retired from writing in 1611, he returned to Stratford to live in a
house which he had built for his family. His only son, Hamnet died when still a
child. He also lost a daughter Judith (twin to Hamnet), but his third child

Susanna married a Stratford Doctor, John Hall and their home “Hall’s

Croft” is today preserved as one of the Shakespeare Properties and
administered by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. In 1616 Shakespeare was buried
in the Church of the Holy Trinity the same Church where he was baptised in 1564.

Tradition has it that he died after an evening’s drinking with some of his
theatre friends. His gravestone bears the words:- Good frend for Jesus sake
forebeare, to digg the dust encloased heare, Bleste be ye man yt spares thes
stones, And curst be he yt moves my bones. In his will Shakespeare left his
wife, the former Anne Hathaway, his second best bed. We cannot be sure of the
reason for this. It may have been the marital bed the best bed being reserved
for guests. It may suggest that they had a not altogether happy marriage which
nevertheless produced three children, Susanna, born on May 26th 1583 and twins ,

Hamnet and Judith, born on February 2nd 1585. These entries appear in the Holy

Trinity Register. There is no direct evidence of the marriage of William

Shakespeare to Anne Hathaway although most historians accept that an entry in
the Bishop’s Register at Worcester in November 1582 regarding the issue of a
marriage licence to William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton does
not refer to the famous bard. However the following day a guarantee of 40 was
undertaken in Stratford by two yeomen of the town against the prevention of the
legal marriage of William Shagspere and Anne Hathway on only one reading of the
banns. In 1582 , 40 was a considerable sum of money and one cannot believe
that the simple fact of Anne’s being three months pregnant would warrant it. No
marriage of an Anne Whatelely has ever been traced, neither has the marriage of

Anne Hathway, but lack of record does not mean that it did not happen.

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