William Shakespeare’s life and his works. Important points on william Shakespeare and his works . UGC NET ,PGT ,TGT Notes.
William Shakespeare was born the son of John and Mary Arden Shakespeare in a small town, Stratford-upon Avon, 100 miles northwest of London. His father John belonged to a farming family near Stratford. Like his son, John had also left his family and moved to a larger commercial centre (Stratford).Here, he worked as a leather worker, a glover, and soon became a leading merchant.
- By 1552, he bought the western portion of the double-house in Henley Street, now known as Shakespeare’s Birthplace.In 1557, John married Mary Arden, the daughter of his father’s wealthy landlord.
- Though John had initially struggled with financial difficulties, he was gradually rising in social stature, and would soon be a burgess in the borough, an alderman, and by 1568, bailiff (a position equal to the mayor).
- William, the third child of their eight children, was thus born into a respectable business household.
- William Shakespeare’s birth is celebrated on 23 April 1564, 3 days before his baptism was entered in the parish register of the Holy Trinity Church on 26 April However, England followed the Julian Calendar at this time, and Shakespeare’s birthday would fall on 5 May according to the Gregorian Calendar.
- Shakespeare might have been born a day or two earlier, but the date 23 April appeals to sentiments because
This is the feast of St. George, England’s patron saint.
- It is on 23 April that Shakespeare died.
- 23 April is also the birth as well as death day of Miguel de Cervantes, according to the Gregorian Calendar
- At the age of 4 or 5, Shakespeare would have learned to read and write in English.At the age of 7, he started learning a heavily classical curriculum at the local grammar school, which involved Memorizing Latin and Latin composition, Mythology, ancient history, rhetoric, grammar
Translations from texts including those of Terence & Plautus, Learning some Greek from the New Testament.
- Did not go to university because his father seems to have fallen on hard times by then, due to unknown reasons.
- In 1582 at age 18, he married Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior and three months pregnant.
- Pregnant brides were not uncommon at that time, nor particularly censured.Their daughter, Susanna, was born in 1583, and twins, Hamnet and Judith, came in 1585.
- The twins were possibly named after Shakespeare’s friends, Hamnet Sadler, a baker, and his wife Judith ,Hamnet died in 1596.
- As was unusual at that time, the Shakespeares had no more children.
Shakespeare in London
- Shakespeare seems to have departed to London sometime in the 1580s.The 7 years from 1585 to 1592 are called “lost years”.
- There is no historical evidence on what he did at this time.
- In 1592, we have the first clear reference to Shakespeare as an actor / playwright in London
Robert Greene, in A Groatsworth of Wit (1592), makes the famous attack on Shakespeare.
- “Yes, trust them not, for there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that, with his Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide, supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrie.”
- “Upstart crow”: a crow from the folk tale, who sticks the feathers of other beautiful birds to his tail, and thinks he himself has become the prettiest
- “Tiger’s heart”: A tiger from the folk tale who wears sheepskin and pretends to be a sheep; here, instead of sheepskin, the “cheat” Shakespeare is wearing the “hide” of an actor.
- “Johannes Factotum”: Jack of all trades; one who pretends to know everything
- “Shake-scene”: This is what reveals to us that he is referring to Shakespeare.
Shakespeare & the London Theatre
- In London, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (also called Lord Strange’s Men) performed his plays, and also probably the Queen’s MenShakespeare owned shares in the Second Blackfriars Theatre, an indoor theatre built by James Burbage, and later, the Globe.
- In the 1590s, the London theatre scene was unsettled. Actors’ companies were forming and disbanding themselves under the pressure of the plague. All London theatres were closed from 1592 to 94 due to the plague.
- Shakespeare seems to have turned to non-dramatic poetry at this time.
The Plague Years
- Shakespeare’s non-dramatic poetry
- Venus and Adonis – 1593
The Rape of Lucrece – 1594
Both dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, probably seeking his patronage.
- Minor non-dramatic poems (which are of doubtful authorship) A Lover’s Complaint.
The Phoenix and the Turtle.
- The Passionate Pilgrim (an anthology of 20 poems edited by William Jaggard, attributed to “W. Shakespeare”)
The Sonnets: Writing and Publication
- Circulated in manuscripts before 1598.
- In 1598, Francis Meres praised Shakespeare’s “sugared sonnets” in his Palladis Tamia, or Wit’s Treasury .
- First publication of sonnets
In 1609, the sonnets were first published in quarto format by Thomas Thorpe, probably without the author’s knowledgem
- The quarto edition has a mysterious dedication from the publisher to “Mr. W.H.” as “the only begetter of these poems” .
In the early 17th century
- Shakespeare secured a coat-of-arms, which granted him the status of a gentleman . A coat-of-arms is a heraldic shield with a unique design granted by the monarch to an individual or family as a recognition of social rank.
- Wrote most of the Great Tragedies, Dark Comedies and Romances
Recognized as a genius in his own time.
- Queen Elizabeth dies in 1603
- King James’s accession to the throne.
The Mermaid Tavern
- Was probably a member of the “Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen” who met at the Mermaid Tavern in Cheapside
- Ben Jonson
- John Donne
- John Fletcher and Francis Beaumon
- Thomas Coryat
- John Seldem
- Robert Bruce Cotton
- Richard Carew
- Richard Martin
- William Strachey
- 1610 retired from theatre.Moved into the big house New Place at Stratford.
- 1613 Globe theatre burns down.
- Lost money but still wealthy; helps rebuild Globe.
- Dies on April 23, 1616 at age 52
Buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.
- Left his property to the male heirs of his eldest daughter, Susanna.
- Bequeathed his “second-best bed” to his wife.
- The couple had lived apart for 20 years of their marriage .