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Shakespeare, Professional Dramatist Of His Time

More is known about Shakespeare than any other professional dramatist of his time (2). He was born in the small English town of Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of seven, Shakespeare attended a strict, high-status grammar school. Students studied Latin, since it was necessary in the time to have a successful career, and attended classes nine hours per day, almost entirely year round. In November 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. At the time, he was 18, and she was 26. In Early 1585, Anne gave birth to twins, a girl Judith, and a boy Hamnet (1).

From the period of February 2, 1585 to 1592, there is little evidence explaining where Shakespeare was living. These years are sometimes referred to as “The Lost Years”, since little is known about Shakespeares life during this period. Shakespeare probably moved to London to work in theater sometime during “The Lost Years”. While in London, Shakespeare joined a repertory theater company. These companies presented different plays regularly, and relied on the admission fees to operate.

In 1594, Shakespeare was a stockholder in a theater company called the Lord Chamberlains Men. The group performed for nobles such as Queen Elisabeth, and was one of the most popular acting companies in London. Shakespeare was an important member of this group for the rest of his career. By 1594, about six of his plays had been produced. From about 1592-94, many theaters were closed down to prevent further spreading of the plague. Because the demand for plays had diminished, Shakespeare began to write poems at this time.

Some believe that Shakespeare hoped to gain the respect that he never received from playwriting. Shakespeare wrote two long plays during this period, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. These were both dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, a young courtier and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, who had become Shakespeares patron (2). A few years later when the theaters opened again, Shakespeare returned to writing plays. During his final years Shakespeare traveled to and from London. However, he was probably spending most of his time in Stratford in his house New Place.

He continued to write plays during these years, and the exact time that he completely retired is debated. On February 10, 1616, Judith Shakespeare married a Stratford neighbor. Shakespeare revised his will to include the marriage. About a month later Shakespeare died on April 23, which is his most accepted date of death (1). Shakespeare was very famous in this period. His plays gained even more popularity, and he was considered the most popular playwright of the time. He remained a stockholder, an actor, and wrote about two plays per year for his company, the Chamberlains Men.

During the 1590s Shakespeare was not only famous, but he had also gained a great health. He bought two very expensive houses in Stratford. Records showed that he preferred to invest most of his money in Stratford. In 1599, Shakespeare and his company became the owners of a new theater in London, located in the suburb of Southwark, called the Globe Theater. The theater was outdoors, and could hold many spectators. In 1603, Shakespeares company received the title Kings Men, which was issued to them by King James VI, whom actively supported theater.

During this time Shakespeare was at the height of his career. At this point he wrote many of the plays that made him well known (1). Some of Shakespeares most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s, including Hamlet and, after James Is accession, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 to 1612 and include Cymbeline, The Winters Tale and The Tempest (2). Perhaps what makes Shakespeare such a genius is that his works gained popularity as time passed.

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