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William Shakespeare. The man.

Updated on October 28, 2013
William Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare. | Source

William Shakespeare

Poet, Dramatist, Actor And More.

Regarded by millions as the greatest dramatist in the English language. For 400 years Shakespeare's plays, poets and sonnets have been heralded and performed around the world. His standard themes of love, hope, death and the trials of life, have endured when others have fallen by the wayside. Indeed the stories and structures in his work can still be applied today. He left us with 38 plays,154 sonnets and numerous poems and narratives.

Personal Records Are Minimal.

Although a writer by profession Shakespeare recorded little about himself or his personal life. What information we have about him comes from court records, certificates and official documents of the time. He was born in April of 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, he was the third child and the first son of John and Mary Shakespeare. From his work we can see that he received a formal education and had a good understanding of the classics. It is thought that he was educated at the Kings New School in Stratford.

Marriage And Career.

At the relatively young age of 18 Shakepeare married Anne Hathaway, she was aged 26 and between1585 and 1592 they had three daughters Susanna and the twins Hamnet and Judith. He decided to move to London to further his career in the late 1580s leaving his family in Stratford, though he came home to Stratford as often as possible. He became popular and extremely successful with the ordinary theatregoer, as well as the Royal Court. Between 1592 and 1594 plague closed public buildings and theatres alike. Throughout this time Shakespeare wrote poetry, as well as 154 sonnets which have survived.

Wealth And Royal Patronage.

In 1594 the theatres were reopened, over the next 4 years Shakespeare wrote 5 history plays, 6 comedies and Romeo and Juliet, all of them being a great success. In 1599 the Globe Theatre was built on Bankside, just outside the restrictions of the City of London. The Theatre was built with a huge stage, this was to allow the performances of larger and more spectacular plays. The Globe opened with Henry V followed by Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night and the mighty Othello. James I, became king in 1603, increasing the royal patronage of the theatre. Due to this the company changed it's name to the King's Men Theatre. Shakespeare was a part owner of the the company and by now had become a wealthy man.

Back Home To Stratford.

In 1612 Shakespear returned home to Stratford and his family, by this time his family had grown and he had grandchildren. Here he led a full and contented life for another 4 years. He died at home on 23 April 1616. His ability to create characters, situations, tears and laughter remain with us today.


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My apologies from the outset, but I have never liked Shakespeare. I know, it's a character flaw that I am aware of, but what can a guy do???

      Having said that, you did a fine job in your mini-bio of the man, and I do appreciate you as a writer, so here I am. :)

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thanks for your comment and effort Bill. Yes, I understand completely. I just thought it might encourage someone somewhere. There is after all a lot of Shakespeare on the pages, however much of it is analysis of his works.

      Graham.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am not a great reader of Shakespeare but that is because I have no knack for reading poetry. His influence is vast in our culture. I enjoyed an episode of the television show JAG where a character demonstrated that all of the bards plays had been redone as Star Trek episodes. sharing.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is a great history of Shakespeare. I know a lot of his works but never took the time to learn about his personal life. It is my daughter who is the Shakespeare buff and has a wonderful collection of books.

      You did a good job here. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Well done. Thank you

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Enjoyed this take on the bard - there's always something new to learn. The Brit Museum had a great tribute to him last year also. Thanks for this...

    • JCielo profile image

      JCielo 4 years ago from England

      Really enjoyed this. Btw, have you seen the movie "Anonymous?" It proposes that Shakespeare didn't write his own plays. He was the 'front man' for the actual writer. But I won't spoil it for those who might wish to see the movie! which I thorougly enjoyed.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I found this very interesting. Thank you..

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Interesting piece, Albion. Mind you there was some rancour raised by his treatment of several real characters, namely Macbeth and Richard III. Macbeth he reduced in rank to 'thegn of Glamis'.

      The succession dispute was down to Duncan naming his nephew Malcolm as his successor. In the manner of the time you could not name an indirect relative to be successor. Duncan was slain running from battle, not in his bed as Macbeth's guest. Malcolm was given help from King Eadward in England, namely Earl Siward 'the Dane', (that much is fact, plus the two-pronged land-sea attack on Dunsinnan) last of Knud's Danish crop of earls. Siward's son Osbeorn was killed in hand-to hand sword-fighting by Macbeth, who got away from Dunsinnan in eastern Scotland. Macbeth ruled the north, his own region Moray, until his death in 1057 when son Lulach succeeded him as Mormaer of Moray (like Prince of Wales). Lulach was murdered on Malcolm's orders soon after and that was the rival dynasty 'taken care of'. Malcolm's indirect descendents were the Stuarts.

      We all know much more about Richard now, and there's a book by Jeremy Potter 'GOOD KING RICHARD?' (Constable, ISBN 0 09 468840 0) that goes a long way towards explaining the politics of the day. Shakespeare based his play on Thomas More's book about Richard, 'waterlogged' would be a good way of describing More's account, who based his on his mentor Cardinal Beaufort's prejudiced pro-Lancastrian account (he was one of the offpring on John of Ghent's ['Gaunt's'] side of Edward III's large family).

      Well, Thomas's 'silken tongue' didn't get him out of trouble with old 'Enery' did it? That's what happens when you try to ingratiate yourself with tyrants, as Thomas Cromwell also found (the hard way)!

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Very nicely done, Graham. Being educated in American public schools, the Bard was mainly relegated to to theater and drama students and I couldn't read more than a page before my head was swimming, Philistine that I am. I admit to enjoying some movies like Richard III (1995) with Ian McKellen. I came to appreciate the genius of Shakespeare by realizing that he transformed the English language-- instead of looking back and thinking how old-timey his plays were. Old-timey... that's my contribution to the English language. Voted up, etc.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Don. Thank you for your visit and interesting comments.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Rosemay. Thank you for your visit and interesting comments. I thought this 'light' review would help someone somewhere.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Martin. Thank you for your visit and comment. Much appreciated.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Maj. Thank you for your visit and welcome comments.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi JCielo. Thank you for your visit and welcome comments. Yes, I have read in the past that there are claims that he was not responsible for all the output claimed.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello Ruby. Thank you for your welcome visit and comment.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Alan. Thank you for your exhaustive comments. It is always interesting to read your views on a particular subject.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi David. Thanks you for your comments. I mean it to be a 'light' informative piece, hopefully to help someone somewhere.

      Graham.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Brilliant! Thanks for sharing this, very useful

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      This is so very interesting Graham.

      A great hub on a great man and I vote up,across and share all around.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      A very informative and interesting hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      On reflecting, it was the death of Osbeorn at Macbeth's sword that led to Earl Harold Godwinson's brother Tostig being appointed Earl of Northumbria after Siward's death. He was never that popular north of the Tees but it took his detractors 10 years to unseat him and have him replaced by a young man who was little more than a callow youth, Morkere/Morcar, younger brother of Eadwin, Earl of Mercia. This in itself led to another side-show in English history, the invasion from Norway of Harald Sigurdsson, 'Hardraadi', which impacted on Harold's effectiveness as a ruler.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi US. Thank you for your valued visit and comment.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Good morning Eddy. I am glad you enjoyed this hub. Thank you so much for your votes and sharing. I do appreciate it.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Vacation Trip. Thank you so much for your visit and valued comment.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Good morning Alan. As always I greatly appreciate your visit and comments. You always offer a little knowledge each visit. Thank you.

      Graham.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 4 years ago from Georgia

      I enjoyed the read, as I'm a big Shakespeare fan and taught the Bard for years. I think, however, that Hamnet was a boy. He died at the age of 11. Voted up!

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi habee. Thank you for your visit and comments. I apppreciate your correction, we should always be helpful to each other on these pages.

      Graham.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      A fascinating hub about 'the bard'.

      I Have to admit that I've always found his private life much more interesting than the work he is famous for, but I can certainly appreciate why he is revered. I think I don't appreciate him more, really because of my ignorance - I don't understand half of what he's writing about! An awful thing to admit but at least I'm honest.

      I really enjoyed this mini biography, packed with very interesting information! Voted up!

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello again Helen. Thank you for your welcome visit and much appreciated comments. Thank you so much for the votes.

      Graham.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again Graham. Me again. I had a video version of the 1971 Roman Polanski 'MacBeth' starring Jon Finch. Of all the productions I've seen (maybe three or four including Orson Welles') I think this one came closest in terms of reality. It's worth digging up if it's available on DVD. As for all these 'pseuds' like Ian McKellen showing Macbeth as a Stalin or Hitler type with jackboots and black uniforms etc... Well, they're about as informed as Shakespeare was on the subject, i.e, 'zilch'.

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Alan. I agree with you with regarding the McKellen approach. Thanks for your visit and comments.

      Graham.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

      The language of Shakespeare's plays is a little difficult to understand until the reader soon grasps word meaning that similarity and context clues provide well. Once the difficulty is overcome, it is smooth sailing all the way! I have not known anyone who did not overcome the initial difficulty. Many of Shakespeare's themes are universal and apply to life today. I have loved his work since I discovered Romeo and Juliet as an adolescent, and I still enjoy his writings, especially his tragedies.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • old albion profile image
      Author

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Levertis. Thank you so much for your visit and thoughtful comments. Yes, he can be heavy weather at times.

      Graham.

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