Monday, August 5, 2013

Author Bio - William Shakespeare

Ok, so I'm sure we've all learned about Shakespeare a million times.  There is always the obligatory play (or two or three plays) that we're required to do in High School.  Romeo and Juliet is one of them.  McBeth is another one.  But, honestly, how much do you actually know about Shakespeare the PERSON?

He was born in April of 1564 (or, it's assumed.  That's when he was baptized and people didn't usually wait very long to baptize their kids in those days.  So there's a fairly high likelihood that he was born in April.)  He came from a moderately wealthy family and was married when he was 18 (due to the fact that he had gotten his wife pregnant before marriage).  Like most people of the age, he had three kids, two of which were twins.  His twin son died when he was age 11, but no one really knows what it was the child died of.

Not much more is known about Shakespeare's early life (even where he attended grammar school is an educated guess.)  He virtually disappeared from records from the time of the twin's birth, in 1585 until he appeared in London, involved in the play scene, in 1592.

It's really unknown when Shakespeare began writing, but 1592 is the first time any of his plays appeared on the stage.  They were fairly well-known by then, enough that he was a target of criticism.  Many thought that he was reaching too far, and that as an (essentially) uneducated writer, he shouldn't be doing the plays that he did.

That didn't stop Shakespeare, however, who continued to have his plays performed by Lord Chamberlain's Men, until Queen Elizabeth's death in 1603.  Then they changed their name to The King's Men to suit King James I (remember that history lesson on Tudor England?  Coming in handy right about now.)  Not only did Shakespeare write plays for the company, he also acted in most (if not all) of his plays and many others.  He was a well-known playwright by the time the late 1590s came.

Shakespeare was actually a very wealthy man when he died, leaving his estate to his wife and two daughters (both of whom were married by the time he died.)

He left behind a litany of work, one of which we're reading this week, Richard II.  I could go on and on about his works and his sonnets, but let's face it, most of us already know about all of that.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, you had to pick the boring play. J/k. I am a fan of his. I read an article about a year ago that posited the theory that his plays were written by a Jewish woman. They argued that this was possible because he had such a clear and romantic view of love that only a woman could understand. They also discussed the portrayal of Jews in The Merchant of Venice and how many of Shylock's issues could only be described by a fellow Jew. I doubt this theory, but it was an interesting article. And it's not like he hasn't been accused of plagiarism before. :)