Informing Bethany Lutheran College's Spring 2013 Production. Shows at: April 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7:30pm and April 21 at 2pm
William Shakespeare was a prolific playwright. Sometimes his history gets lost in the overwhelming flood of connotations with his name. Despite having a supernaturally influential career on all of literature, he was also a man. Before we can really understand any man’s work, we have to understand the context they come from.
William Shakespeare: The Bard. That ruff ensnared many a naive, young bar wench… literally.
There is a lot of information out there on Shakespeare and his life, not all of it very correct, so if you want to find out more than this relatively short biography reveals, I would be more than willing to give you more articles and sites that I have found about him. Or YouTube videos. Or books. Whatever medium your heart desires, really.
Birth and Early Life:
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564. Church records state that he was baptized April 26th, so most scholars believe he was born April 23rd, as baptism three days after birth was the common practice of that time. Shakespeare was the third child (the first son) of John and Mary Shakespeare. His father was an ambitious glover who held several local, public offices. There is little information on Shakespeare’s life as a child, scholars assume he was well-educated, because of his father’s social standing.
Wife and Kids:
Turns out Shakespeare was quite the ladies’ man and on November 28th, 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than he and pregnant at the time. Their daughter, Susanna, was born May 26, 1583. On February 2, 1585 Anne gave birth to twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet died August 11, 1596 and some sources say that his death inspired Shakespeare to write his most famous tragedy, “Hamlet” out of grief.
Following the birth of the twins, little is known about William Shakespeare’s whereabouts. Though it is clear that by 1592 he was a prominent actor and playwright in London. By 1594 Shakespeare was a member of the Chamberlain’s Men, which later became the King’s Men when King James I came into power. This troupe was a favorite amongst the court and boasted the actors Richard Burbage and Will Kempe to its name.
End of Life:
William Shakespeare applied for and received a coat-of-arms in 1596, after this point his career only moved upwards. He came into money after a few friends died, and made an investment on land in Stratford-upon-Avon that made him a rich man. When he died in April 1616, he was able to leave his daughters and wife a comfortable living due to the wise business choices he made in life.
So there it is, a brief sketch of Shakespeare’s life. Before I sign off, here’s the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s biography of Shakespeare. (It’s slightly different than mine.)