William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare was born on April 26, 1564, which also marked the same year that Galileo was born. It was during a time when only a third of children survived. Shakespeare's parents had already lost two daughters at birth prior to having him. Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright. He is widely acclaimed as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than any other playwright ever written. 

When Shakespeare went to school at the age of seven in 1571, England was going through an education revolution. His generation happened to become the most literate in past history. He and his schoolmates were the government target generation so therefore the government kept a tight control on education. William had exceptional grammar and was taught Latin, which was considered to be the language of high society. Through the transitions of his time, William was able to see all sides and the precise split in English society first hand. 

In the first nineteen years of his life, Williams saw his father rise to the top and then lose it all. He experienced a privileged life and also how it felt to be an outsider. He was very much influenced by the "Coventry Mystery Plays" which can be seen in his own plays. He loved the plays for their raw power and rude humor but they were closed down when he was 15. Around the same time, his father was facing a bevy of problems and due to the recession, his wool business took a huge hit. William's life takes a turn and his chances of a higher education diminish so he begins to work at home with his father. He meets a young woman by the name of Anne Hathaway, who was the daughter of his father's business partner. At the age of 18, William marries Anne and they have a daughter named Susanne. He also had a son named Hamlet, who died at the age of eleven and evidently had a great impact on him as a man and writer. As we now see, Hamlet's passing was his motivation of what would become one the greatest playwrights ever.

Shakespeare becomes the provider of his household due to the misfortunes of his father so he starts looking for work. He joins a group of actors and they put together plays. The actors were appointed by Queen Elizabeth and the government as a propaganda technique to prepare the people for war. The plays contained political messages to stand against the Spanish and Romans. William then heads to London, an up and coming city and this is where he distinguished himself by breaking apart and pursuing his true love of becoming a writer. 

During this time, a man by the name of Christopher Marlow who was a studied actor, had the theater world in the grasp of his hands. Meanwhile in London, Shakespeare was making a name for himself. His plays were branded as "must see" and he eventually hit number one in the box office on March 3rd, 1596. His plays would draw audiences of nearly two thousand people and would surpass all others in the competing business around him. It was becoming bigger than any of Marlow's work. Now the animosity towards William would begin. Printer's and critics alike would publish diatribes against him, furious that a mere actor can write as well or better than University wits. 

With England in turmoil, the 1590's was when the English theater was booming an entering its golden age with Shakespeare being the star. Despite most critics suggestions that the plays should be about God, Shakespeare's first published work was called "Venus and Adonis", becoming an instant best seller and the topic was not on God, but on love.

One problem that Shakespeare had was that the theater in which his plays took place, was not his own, so therefore he had a landlord. After a feud with his landlord he decided to leave with his company of play members and look for a new, grander theater elsewhere. Peter Street, who happened to be the best carpenter in London, and a dozen workmen helped disassemble the old theater and move it. While one problem caused a delay in plans, it soon opened up a new plan that was coming into fruition. The old timbers of the theater moved to the Southbank of London and was rebuilt into what became one of the most famous theaters. They would attach a banner at the top that read "All The World is A Stage" and they called the theater "The Globe". It would open on June 12th, 1599. From now on, Shakespeare and his cronies would be new owners in their own enterprise. It was the birth of the modern theater. The Globe held two thousand people and could have nearly fifteen thousand attending it weekly, depending if it was a hit show. The government tried to control the influence it because it was becoming influential and religious parties wanted it closed down altogether. The power the theater had was evident.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth. Considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his past phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Shakespeare's last piece was called "All Is True". The globe burned down and he retired for good in his old town. He would join his son-in-law on his business trips and he was just a man with ease in his life until 1616 when he fell ill. He would die 3 days short of his 52nd birthday on April 23rd, 1616. The story is that Shakespeare died from a fever that was a result of a drinking binge. But there is no substantial proof although at that time many men were heavy drinkers. His legacy would come a little later. Seven years after his death in 1623, two of his friends gathered together a collection of 37 of his plays. The most famous being Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet. Numerous plays would have never been published had they never put together this portfolio of Shakespeare's works. It was of the utmost act of love that they could show their friend. Perhaps the most touching and generous tribute came from one of his adversaries, Ben Johnson, who said that his beloved Shakespeare has surpassed even the greatest poets of ancient Greece and Rome... "he was not of an age, but for all time".


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