Thursday, 17 March 2011



Lucius Tarquinius, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus,
after he had caused his own father-in-law Servius Tullius to be
cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not
requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had possessed himself
of the kingdom, went accompanied with his sons and other noblemen of
Rome, to besiege Ardea. During which siege the principal men of the
army meeting one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the
king's son, in their discourses after supper every one commended the
virtues of his own wife; among whom Collatinus extolled the
incomparable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humour
they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and sudden
arrival, to make trial of that which every one had before avouched,
only Collatinus finds his wife, though it were late in the night,
spinning amongst her maids: the other ladies were all found dancing
and revelling, or in several disports. Whereupon the noblemen
yielded Collatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time
Sextus Tarquinius being inflamed with Lucrece' beauty, yet
smothering his passions for the present, departed with the rest back
to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself,
and was, according to his estate, royally entertained and lodged by
Lucrece at Collatium. The same night he treacherously stealeth into
her chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the morning speedeth
away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily dispatcheth
messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the camp for
Collatine. They came, the one accompanied with Junius Brutus, the
other with Publius Valerius; and finding Lucrece attired in mourning
habit, demanded the cause of her sorrow. She, first taking an oath
of them for her revenge, revealed the actor and whole manner of his
dealing, and withal suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one
consent they all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the
Tarquins; and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the
people with the doer and manner of the vile deed, with a bitter
invective against the tyranny of the king: wherewith the people were
so moved, that with one consent and a general acclamation the Tarquins
were all exiled, and the state government changed from kings to



The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end: whereof this
pamphlet, without beginning is but a superfluous moiety. The warrant I
have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored
lines, make it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours;
what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours.
Were my worth greater, my duty would show greater; meantime, as it is,
it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish long life still
lengthened with all happiness.


The Phoenix and the Turtle
Let the bird of loudest lay
On the sole Arabian tree,
Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.
But thou shrieking harbinger,
Foul precurrer of the fiend,
Augur of the fever's end,
To this troop come thou not near.

From this session interdict
Every fowl of tyrant wing
Save the eagle, feather'd king:
Keep the obsequy so strict.

Let the priest in surplice white
That defunctive music can,
Be the death-divining swan,
Lest the requiem lack his right.

And thou, treble-dated crow,
That thy sable gender mak'st
With the breath thou giv'st and tak'st,
'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

Here the anthem doth commence:—
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.

So they loved, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none;
Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance, and no space was seen
'Twixt the turtle and his queen:
But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phoenix' sight;
Either was the other's mine.

Property was thus appall'd,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature's double name
Neither two nor one was call'd.

Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together;
To themselves yet either neither;
Simple were so well compounded,

That it cried, 'How true a twain
Seemeth this concordant one!
Love hath reason, reason none
If what parts can so remain.'

Whereupon it made this threne
To the phoenix and the dove,
Co-supremes and stars of love,
As chorus to their tragic scene.


BEAUTY, truth, and rarity,
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclosed in cinders lie.

Death is now the phoenix' nest;
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,

Leaving no posterity:
'Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.

Truth may seem, but cannot be;
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.




From off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sist'ring vale,
My spirits t'attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale,
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings atwain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.
Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcase of a beauty spent and done.
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit, but spite of heaven's fell rage
Some beauty peeped through lattice of seared age.
Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laund'ring the silken figures in the brine
That seasoned woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguished woe
In clamours of all size, both high and low.

Sometimes her levelled eyes their carriage ride
As they did batt'ry to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To th'orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at once, and nowhere fixed,
The mind and sight distractedly commixed.

Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plait,
Proclaimed in her a careless hand of pride;
For some, untucked, descended her sheaved hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And, true to bondage, would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.

A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands that lets not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.

Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perused, sighed, tore, and gave the flood;
Cracked many a ring of posied gold and bone,
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet moe letters sadly penned in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathed and sealed to curious secrecy.

These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kissed, and often 'gan to tear;
Cried "O false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seemed more black and damned here!"
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.

A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh,
Sometime a blusterer that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours observed as they flew,
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew,
And, privileged by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.

So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely distant sits he by her side,
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide.
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
'Tis promised in the charity of age.

"Father," she says "though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgement I am old:
Not age, but sorrow over me hath power.
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, if I had self-applied
Love to myself, and to no love beside.

"But, woe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit -it was to gain my grace -
O, one by nature's outwards so commended
That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face.
Love lacked a dwelling and made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide
She was new-lodged and newly deified.

"His browny locks did hang in crooked curls,
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind,
For on his visage was in little drawn
What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn.

"Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear,
Like unshorn velvet, on that termless skin,
Whose bare outbragged the web it seemed to wear;
Yet showed his visage by that cost more dear,
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it was, or best without.

"His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongued he was, and thereof free;
Yet, if men moved him, was he such a storm
As oft twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, unruly though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.

"Well could he ride, and often men would say
`That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop he makes!'
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by th' well-doing steed.

"But quickly on this side the verdict went:
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplished in himself, not in his case.
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him.

"So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kind of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep.
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will,

"That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old, and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted.
Consents bewitched, ere he desire, have granted,
And dialogued for him what he would say,
Asked their own wills, and made their wills obey.

"Many there were that did his picture get
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;
Like fools that in th'imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assigned,
And labour in moe pleasures to bestow them
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them.

"So many have, that never touched his hand,
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woeful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, not in part,
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower.

"Yet did I not, as some my equals did,
Demand of him, nor being desired yielded;
Finding myself in honour so forbid,
With safest distance I mine honour shielded.
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleeding, which remained the foil
Of this false jewel and his amorous spoil.

"But ah, who ever shunned by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay?
Or forced examples 'gainst her own content
To put the by-past perils in her way?
Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay,
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wills more keen.

"Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood
That we must curb it upon others' proof,
To be forbod the sweets that seems so good
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetite, from judgement stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste,
Though reason weep, and cry `It is thy last'.

"For further I could say this man's untrue,
And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling;
Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew;
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling;
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art,
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.

"And long upon these terms I held my city,
Till thus he 'gan besiege me: `Gentle maid,
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
And be not of my holy vows afraid.
That's to ye sworn to none was ever said;
For feasts of love I have been called unto,
Till now did ne'er invite nor never woo.

" `All my offences that abroad you see
Are errors of the blood, none of the mind;
Love made them not; with acture they may be,
Where neither party is nor true nor kind.
They sought their shame that so their shame did find;
And so much less of shame in me remains
By how much of me their reproach contains.

" `Among the many that mine eyes have seen,
Not one whose flame my heart so much as warmed,
Or my affection put to th' smallest teen,
Or any of my leisures ever charmed.
Harm have I done to them, but ne'er was harmed;
Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free,
And reigned commanding in his monarchy.

" `Look here what tributes wounded fancies sent me
Of pallid pearls and rubies red as blood,
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
Of grief and blushes, aptly understood
In bloodless white and the encrimsoned mood -
Effects of terror and dear modesty,
Encamped in hearts, but fighting outwardly.

" `And lo, behold these talents of their hair,
With twisted metal amorously impleached,
I have received from many a several fair,
Their kind acceptance weepingly beseeched,
With the annexions of fair gems enriched,
And deep-brained sonnets that did amplify
Each stone's dear nature, worth, and quality.

" `The diamond? -why, 'twas beautiful and hard,
Whereto his invised properties did tend;
The deep-green em'rald, in whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend;
The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone,
With wit well blazoned, smiled or made some moan.
" `Lo, all these trophies of affections hot,
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender,
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not,
But yield them up where I myself must render -
That is to you, my origin and ender;
For these, of force, must your oblations be,
Since I their altar, you enpatron me.

" `O then advance of yours that phraseless hand,
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise.
Take all these similes to your own command,
Hallowed with sighs that burning lungs did raise.
What me your minister, for you obeys,
Works under you, and to your audit comes
Their distract parcels in combined sums.

" `Lo, this device was sent me from a nun,
A sister sanctified, of holiest note,
Which late her noble suit in court did shun,
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote;
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat,
But kept cold distance, and did thence remove
To spend her living in eternal love.

" `But, O my sweet, what labour is't to leave
The thing we have not, mast'ring what not strives,
Planing the place which did no form receive,
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves!
She that her fame so to herself contrives,
The scars of battle scapeth by the flight,
And makes her absence valiant, not her might.

" `O pardon me, in that my boast is true!
The accident which brought me to her eye
Upon the moment did her force subdue,
And now she would the caged cloister fly:
Religious love put out religion's eye.
Not to be tempted, would she be immured,
And now to tempt, all liberty procured.

" `How mighty then you are, O hear me tell!
The broken bosoms that to me belong
Have emptied all their fountains in my well,
And mine I pour your ocean all among.
I strong o'er them, and you o'er me being strong,
Must for your victory us all congest,
As compound love to physic your cold breast.

" `My parts had power to charm a sacred nun,
Who, disciplined, ay, dieted in grace,
Believed her eyes when they t'assail begun,
All vows and consecrations giving place.
O most potential love! -vow, bond, nor space,
In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine,
For thou art all, and all things else are thine.

" `When thou impressest, what are precepts worth
Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame,
How coldly those impediments stand forth,
Of wealth, of filial fear, law, kindred, fame!
Love's arms are peace, 'gainst rule, 'gainst sense, 'gainst shame;
And sweetens, in the suff'ring pangs it bears,
The aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears.

" `Now all these hearts that do on mine depend,
Feeling it break, with bleeding groans they pine,
And supplicant their sighs to you extend,
To leave the batt'ry that you make 'gainst mine,
Lending soft audience to my sweet design,
And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.'

"This said, his wat'ry eyes he did dismount,
whose sights till then were levelled on my face;
Each cheek a river running from a fount
With brinish current downward flowed apace.
O how the channel to the stream gave grace!
Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses
That flame through water which their hue encloses.

"O father, what a hell of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!
But with the inundation of the eyes
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
What breast so cold that is not warmed here?
O cleft effect! Cold modesty, hot wrath,
Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath.

"For lo, his passion, but an art of craft,
Even there resolved my reason into tears;
There my white stole of chastity I daffed,
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears;
Appear to him as he to me appears,
All melting; though our drops this diff'rence bore:
His poisoned me, and mine did him restore.

"In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives,
Of burning blushes or of weeping water,
Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves,
In either's aptness, as it best deceives,
To blush at speeches rank, to weep at woes,
Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows,

"That not a heart which in his level came
Could scape the hail of his all-hurting aim,
Showing fair nature is both kind and tame;
And, veiled in them, did win whom he would maim.
Against the thing he sought he would exclaim;
When he most burned in heart-wished luxury
He preached pure maid and praised cold chastity.

"Thus merely with the garment of a grace
The naked and concealed fiend he covered,
That th'unexperient gave the tempter place,
Which like a cherubin above them hovered.
Who, young and simple, would not be so lovered?
Ay me, I fell; and yet do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.

"O, that infected moisture of his eye,
O, that false fire which in his cheek so glowed,
O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly,
O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestowed,
O, all that borrowed motion, seeming owed,
Would yet again betray the fore-betrayed,
And new pervert a reconciled maid."

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,

    - The Passionate Pilgrim II

    Two loves I have, of comfort and despair, 
     That like two spirits do suggest me still; 
     My better angel is a man right fair, 
     My worser spirit a woman colour'd ill. 
     To win me soon to hell,my female evil
      Tempteth my better angel from my side,
      And would corrupt my saint to be a devil, 
    Wooing his purity with her fair pride. 
     And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend.
      Suspect I may, yet not directly tell: 
     For being both to me, both to each friend. 
    I guess one angel in another's hell: 
    The truth I shall not know, but live in doubt, 
    Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,

    Two loves I have, of comfort and despair,  That like two spirits do suggest me still;  My better angel is a man right fair,  My worser spirit a woman colour'd ill.  To win me soon to hell, my female evil  Tempteth my better angel from my side,  And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,  Wooing his purity with her fair pride.  And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend.  Suspect I may, yet not directly tell:  For being both to me, both to each friend.  I guess one angel in another's hell:  The truth I shall not know, but live in doubt,  Till my bad angel fire my good one out.
    - The Passionate Pilgrim II

Time Line

    William Shakespeare  1564 - 1616Shakespeare

      Time Line
        1564        Born Stratford-upon-Avon, baptized (April 26), 
                        eldest son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden.
        1568        John Shakespeare becomes bailiff of Stratford.
        1582        Marries Anne Hathaway of Shottery.
        1583        Baptism (May 26) of first daughter, Susanna
        1585        Baptism (February 2) of twins, 
                        son and daughter, Hamnet and Judith.
        1590-2    First performances of the historical 
                        trilogy Henry VI.
        1596        Son Hamnet dies (August 11), aged eleven.
        1597        Bought New Place, the second largest house in Stratford.
        1598        First publication of the quarto of 
                        Love's Labour's Lost.
        1599        Globe Theatre opens.
        1601        Father, John, dies. 
                        Performance of Richard II at the Globe.
        1603        Queen Elizabeth I dies. 
                        The Lord Chamberlain's Men 
                        becomes The King's Men.
        1607        Daughter, Susanna, marries (June 5) 
                        John Hall, a well known doctor in Stratford.
        1608        One of the founders of the Blackfriars Theatre. 
                        Mother, Mary, dies. 
        1610        Presumed year of return to live in Stratford, from London.
        1612        Testifies in the Belott-Mountjoy suit. 
                        The earliest surviving example of Shakespeare's 
                        signature is at the end of his deposition.
        1613        The Globe burns down.
        1616        Daughter, Judith marries (February 10) Thomas Quiney. 
                        Shakespeare signs (March 25) his will. 
                        Dies (April 23). Buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford.
        1623        Death of Shakespeare's widow, Anne. 
                        Publication of the First Folio by Robert Heminge and Henry Condell. 

William Shakespeare Biography & Works

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23rd, 1564. Three days later, on April the 26th, baby William was baptized at the Trinity Church before his proud parents, John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. John was a glover and merchant of leather. Mary Arden was a land heiress. William was the third child of eight children in the Shakespeare household. Only five of the children lived to be adults. John Shakespeare enjoyed considerable success as both a merchant and an alderman and high bailiff of Stratford. Before William would set out on his own, however, John suffered somewhat of a reversal of fortune in the late 1570's.
Truth be told, the formative calculus of young William's education is more than a little mysterious, although it is known that he studied at the free grammar school in Stratford, which at the time rivaled Eton. Few records exist establishing just where he came into his formative knowledge of Latin and Classical Greek. It is known that William Shakespeare never went to University. This fact in and of itself has often fomented debate vis-�-vis the sheer possibility of his authorship of so many brilliant plays and verse.
On November 28th, 1582, when William was 18-years-old, he betrothed Anne Hathaway. She was eight years his senior and with child at the time. Their first daughter, Susanna, was born on May 26th, in 1583. A bit less than two years later the couple also had twins, Hamnet and Judith, who were born February 2, 1585. They were happily christened, like their father, at the Trinity Church. Unhappily, however, young Hamnet never lived to see his twelfth birthday, dying at 11, on August 11th, 1596.
It was not until seven years later, in 1592 that Shakespeare reappears in the public light. During this unknown period, it has been speculated that young Shakespeare was up to no good, and may have been in fact a poacher. Evidently he got caught illegally hunting on the land of Sir Thomas Lucy, while working as an assistant schoolmaster, and it was this incident which forced the young man to flee the hinterlands for the big city of London, to establish himself as an actor and playwright.
Envied from the start, for his unthinkable talent, a London playwright called Robert Greene lampooned the newcomer, in the daily paper, with "�an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes for totum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country."
Despise him or envy him or cherish him, it was clear William Shakespeare demonstrated a streak of brilliance so bright it was impossible to name. By 1594, he was not only acting and writing for Lord Chamberlain's Men (called the King's Men after the ascension of James I in 1603), but was a managing partner in all aspects of the enterprise as well. Lord Chamberlain's Men ran the gamut between grandiose tragic actors like Richard Burbage to master comedians like Will Kempe. The London Troupe became a favorite form of entertainment visited by the general theatre going public as well as the highest of Royalty. Although Shakespeare could not count himself wealthy, he could well afford a new house by 1611, which he built in his hometown of Stratford.
To get there, he would write, in addition to serried sonnets, the following Plays:
All's Well That Ends Well; As You Like It; The Comedy of Errors; Cymbeline; Love's Labours Lost; Measure for Measure; The Merry Wives of Windsor; The Merchant of Venice; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Taming of the Shrew; The Tempest; Troilus and Cressida; Twelfth Night; Two Gentlemen of Verona; Winter's Tale; Henry IV, Part I; Henry IV, Part II; Henry V; Henry VI, Part I; Henry VI, Part II; Henry VI, Part III; Henry VIII; King John; Richard II; Richard III; Antony and Cleopatra; Coriolanus; Hamlet; Julius Caesar; King Lear; Macbeth; Othello; Romeo and Juliet; Timon of Athens; and Titus Andronicus.
Although many venues have put on the above plays, it was more often than not in Shakespeare's co-owned Globe Theatre, which was 3000 seat labor of love put together with stolen scraps and woodworking talents in a somewhat dubious neighborhood in London. The Globe Theatre may well emulate Shakespeare in fame and significance in the world of Drama, and enabled the playwright a guaranteed outlet for his prolific output.
When he died, as legend has it on his birthday, besides his home, William Shakespeare left but 300 pounds to his surviving daughter Judith, and to Anne, his wife, he left (his) "second best bed." To Western civilization, however, he left the above works, which have endured for over four hundred years to this day.

William Shakespeare 1

William Shakespeare
      William Shakespeare is universally regarded as the greatest dramatist and the finest poet of the English language. He lived in England during the era of Queen Elizabeth I of which historian consider the Elizabethan Age as a peak of English culture.
      The exact birth date of William Shakespeare is unknown, however, based on the record of the parish register, he was baptized on April 26, 1564 in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon and buried there on April 25, 1616. According to the custom at that time, infants were usually baptized three days after their birth. And Shakespeare's birthday is usually celebrated on April 23, also the date of his death, he died at the age of 52.
      William Shakespeare was the eldest son and the third of eight children, his father, John Shakespeare, was a glover, a tanner and a local prominent merchant who was later granted arms, acknowledged as a gentleman. Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, was left with money and some properties that her father gave her before his death, therefore, Shakespeare grew up in a fairly well off family. He was probably educated at the local grammar school in Stratford, he might have also learned Latin, Greek and the language of ancient Rome there.
      William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582, when she was 26 years old and pregnant, he was only 18. They had three children, Susanna, born in 1583, and twins - a boy and a girl, Judith and Hamnet, born in 1585. Sadly, Hamnet did not survive, he died at the young age of eleven.
      Records showed that Shakespeare apparently arrived in London and began his career as an actor around 1588, within a few years, by 1592 he had attained success as an actor and playwright. In 1594, he became a shareholder of his acting company, Lord Chamberlain's Men, later called the King's Men for which he wrote many successful and popular plays, and in 1599, he became a partner in the Globe Theatre and subsequently the Blackfriars Theatre. All these financially advantageous arrangements secured his financial success and enabled him to enjoy his large fortune during his lifetime.
      There are no complete or authoritative records on the life of William Shakespeare, we can only gather information on his life from public records such as tax registers, legal papers etc., or references to his work in various letters and diaries of his day. To a certain extent, his life is an enigma to some scholars and critics, they have theorized that some of Shakespeare's works might have been written by other authors, such as the philosopher and politician Sir Francis Bacon; or the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere; or the young and genius Christopher Marlow. These critics have the conjecture that the actor and playwright Shakespeare, who was given only an average education and was born a son of a tradesman, could not have been the brilliant author of the splendid work found in the First Folio that was published in 1623.
      Documentation on the precise date of Shakespeare's plays is lacking, none of his manuscript survived, scholars and critics generally divide his dramatic career into four periods: the Early Period, the Period of Comedies and Histories, the Period of Tragedies, and the Period of Romances. Shakespeare achieved recognition and earned his reputation as a popular poet after he wrote his two erotic narrative poems: Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), although these poems were not published until 1609. He wrote at least 37 plays and 154 sonnets. By 1612, he returned permanently to Stratford, partially retired there and wrote his last play.
      All in all, Shakespeare is not only the greatest but also the most powerful and influential of the English writers and poets, he is the master of early modern English, with his profound understanding of human nature and his ability to create such vivid and interesting characters, Shakespeare definitely has had a direct significant influence in the shaping of English literature and the development of the English language.

William Shakespeare

I. Introduction
Any discussion of Shakespeare's life is bound to be loaded with superlatives. In the course of a quarter century, Shakespeare wrote some thirty-eight plays. Taken individually, several of them are among the world's finest written works; taken collectively, they establish Shakespeare as the foremost literary talent of his own Elizabethan Age and, even more impressively, as a genius whose creative achievement has never been surpassed in any age.
In light of Shakespeare's stature and the passage of nearly four centuries since his death, it is not surprising that hundreds of Shakespeare biographies have been written in all of the world's major languages. Scanning this panorama, most accounts of the Bard's life (and certainly the majority of modern studies) are contextual in the sense that they place the figure of Shakespeare against the rich tapestry of his "Age" or "Times" or "Society." This characteristic approach to Shakespeare biography is actually a matter of necessity, for without such fleshing out into historical, social, and literary settings, the skeletal character of what we know about Shakespeare from primary sources would make for slim and, ironically, boring books. As part of this embellishment process, serious scholars continue to mine for hard facts about the nature of Shakespeare's world. The interpretation of their meaning necessarily varies, often according to the particular school or ideology of the author.
Whatever the differences of opinion, valid or at least plausible views about Shakespeare, his character and his personal experience continue to be advanced. Yet even among modern Shakespeare biographies, in addition to outlandish interpretations of the available facts, there persists (and grows) a body of traditions about such matters as Shakespeare's marriage, his move to London, the circumstances of his death and the like. The result of all this is that there is now a huge tapestry of descriptive, critical, and analytical work about Shakespeare in existence, much of it reasonable, some of it outlandish, and some of it hogwash.
II. Three important points about Shakespeare
In examining Shakespeare's life, three broad points should be kept in mind from the start. First, despite the frustration of Shakespeare biographers with the absence of a primary source of information written during (or even shortly after) his death on 23 April 1616 (his fifty-second birthday), Shakespeare's life is not obscure. In fact, we know more about Shakespeare's life, its main events and contours, than we know about most famous Elizabethans outside of the royal court itself.
Shakespeare's life is unusually well-documented: there are well over 100 references to Shakespeare and his immediate family in local parish, municipal, and commercial archives and we also have at least fifty observations about Shakespeare's plays (and through them, his life) from his contemporaries. The structure of Shakespeare's life is remarkably sound; it is the flesh of his personal experience, his motives, and the like that have no firm basis and it is, of course, this descriptive content in which we are most interested.
Second, the appeal of seeing an autobiographical basis in Shakespeare's plays and poetry must be tempered by what the bulk of the evidence has to say about him. Although there are fanciful stories about Shakespeare, many centering upon his romantic affairs, connections between them and the events or characters of his plays are flimsy, and they generally disregard our overall impression of the Bard. In his personal life, Shakespeare was, in fact, an exceedingly practical individual, undoubtedly a jack of many useful trades, and a shrewd businessman in theatrical, commercial and real estate circles.
Third, the notion that plays ascribed to Shakespeare were actually written by others (Sir Francis Bacon, the poet Phillip Sidney among the candidates) has become even weaker over time. The current strong consensus is that while Shakespeare may have collaborated with another Elizabethan playwright in at least one instance (probably with John Fletcher on The Two Noble Kinsman), and that one or two of his plays were completed by someone else (possibly Fletcher on an original or revised version of Henry VIII), the works ascribed to Shakespeare are his.
III. Birth and Early Life
Parish records establish that William Shakespeare was baptized on 26 April, 1564. Simply counting backwards the three customary days between birth and baptism in Anglican custom, most reckon that the Bard of Avon was born on 23 April, 1564. This is, indeed, Shakespeare's official birthday in England, and, it is also the traditional birth date of St. George, the patron saint of England. The exact date and the precise cause of Shakespeare's death are unknown: one local tradition asserts that the Bard died on 23 April, 1616, of a chill caught after a night of drinking with fellow playwrights Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton. Shakespeare was, in fact, buried three days later, exactly 52 years after his baptism.
Shakespeare was born and raised in the picturesque Tudor market town of Stratford-on-Avon, a local government and commercial center within a larger rural setting, and it is likely that the surrounding woodlands of his boyhood were reflected in the play As You Like It, with its Forest of Arden. Shakespeare's mother Mary Arden was a daughter of the local gentry, holding extensive properties around Stratford-on-Avon in his name. In marrying Shakespeare's father, the glover and tenant farmer John Shakespeare, Mary Arden took a step down the social ladder of the Elizabethan Age, for her husband was of the yeoman class, a notch or two below the gentry. Yet long before his son's fame as a playwright fell to his good fortune, John Shakespeare's talents enabled him to rise modestly on his own accord as he became a burgess member of the town council. Despite evidence of a family financial setback when William was fifteen, Shakespeare's family was comfortable, if not privileged. Shakespeare's eventual fame and success spilled over to his parents in the form of both money and title, and on the eve of his death in 1601, Queen Elizabeth granted the Bard's father a "gentleman's" family coat-of-arms.
We have good cause to believe that Shakespeare attended Stratford Grammar School where he would have received a tuition-free education as the son of a burgess father. There young William was exposed to a standard Elizabethan curriculum strong on Greek and Latin literature (including the playwrights Plautus and Seneca, and the amorous poet Ovid), rhetoric (including that of the ancient Roman orator Cicero), and Christian ethics (including a working knowledge of the Holy Bible). These influences are pervasive in Shakespeare's works, and it is also apparent that Shakespeare cultivated a knowledge of English history through chronicles written shortly before and during his adolescence. Shakespeare left school in 1579 at the age of fifteen, possibly as the result of a family financial problem. Shakespeare did not pursue formal education any further: he never attended a university and was not considered to be a truly learned man.
There is a period in Shakespeare's life of some seven years (1585 to 1592) from which we have absolutely no primary source materials about him. We do know that in November of 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway (a woman eight years his senior), and that she gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, six months later. Two years after that, the Shakespeares had twins: Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet, Shakespeare's only son, would die at the age of eleven. Speculation has it that Shakespeare was not happy in his marriage, and that this may have played a role in his decision to move to London's theater scene. In fact, during the late 1580s and early 1590s, Shakespeare traveled back and forth between London and Stratford-on-Avon, but by this time, the momentum of Shakespeare's life was toward his career and away from family, hearth, and home. Although we lack hard facts, we may surmise that before he took up a career as a playwright, Shakespeare engaged in a variety of occupations, probably working with his father in commercial trades (leathers and grains), probably working as a law clerk, and possibly serving as a soldier or sailor for an England threatened by Spain. Shakespeare displays a command of the argot and the practices of many such crafts, as in his portrayal of the law profession in trial scenes of The Merchant of Venice.
IV. The Playwright
Between the early 1590s (The Comedy of Errors) and the second decade of the seventeenth century (The Tempest written in 1611), Shakespeare composed the most extraordinary body of works in the history of world drama. His works are often divided into periods, moving roughly from comedies to histories to tragedies and then to his final romances capped by a farewell to the stage in The Tempest. The question of how and whether the Bard's career should be divided into periods aside, we do know that Shakespeare received a major boost in 1592 (the earliest review of his work that we have), when playwright-critic Robert Greene condemned the future Bard as an impudent "upstart" beneath the notice of established literary men or University Wits. Greene's critical diatribe was soon retracted by his editor as a number of leading Elizabethan literary figures expressed their admiration for his early plays. Retreating from London in the plague years of 1592 through 1594, Shakespeare briefly left playwriting aside to compose long poems like Venus and Adonis and at least some of his sonnets. But during this period, Shakespeare garnered the support of his first major sponsor, the Earl of Southampton. Soon, as a leading figure in the Chamberlain's Men company he would garner even greater patronage from the courts of Queen Elizabeth and her successor, King James.
Just as the rise of Shakespeare's success, popularity, and fame began to accelerate, he experienced a personal tragedy when his son Hamnet died in 1596. Shakespeare undoubtedly returned to Stratford for Hamnet's funeral and this event may have prompted him to spend more time with his wife and daughters. In 1597, Shakespeare purchased a splendid Tudor Mansion in his hometown known as the New Place. During the period between 1597 and 1611, Shakespeare apparently spent most of his time in London during the theatrical season, but was active in Stratford as well, particularly as an investor in grain dealings. Shakespeare also purchased real estate in the countryside and in London as well, the latter including Blackfriar's Gatehouse which he bought in 1613. In 1612, four years before his death, Shakespeare went into semi-retirement at the relatively young age of forty-eight. He died on or about 23 April of 1616 of unknown causes.
William Shakespeare's family lineage came to an end two generations after his death. His two daughters followed different paths in their father's eyes. His older daughter, Susanna, married a prominent local doctor, John Hall, in 1607 and there are indications that a close friendship developed between Hall and his renowned father-in-law. Susanna gave Shakespeare his only grandchild, Elizabeth Hall in 1608. Although she inherited the family estate and was married twice (her first husband dying) Elizabeth had no children of her own. Shakespeare's other daughter, Judith married Thomas Quiney, a tavern owner and reputed rake given to pre-marital and extramarital affairs and the fathering of illegitimate children. They had three legitimate sons, all of whom died young.
V. Shakespeare's World
Most of Shakespeare's career unfolded during the monarchy of Elizabeth I, the Great Virgin Queen from whom the historical period of the Bard's life takes its name as the Elizabethan Age. Elizabeth came to the throne under turbulent circumstances in 1558 (before Shakespeare was born) and ruled until 1603. Under her reign, not only did England prosper as a rising commercial power at the expense of Catholic Spain, Shakespeare's homeland undertook an enormous expansion into the New World and laid the foundations of what would become the British Empire. This ascendance came in the wake of the Renaissance and the Reformation, the former regaining Greek and Roman classics and stimulating an outburst of creative endeavor throughout Europe, the latter transforming England into a Protestant/Anglican state, and generating continuing religious strife, especially during the civil wars of Elizabeth's Catholic sister, Queen Margaret or "Bloody Mary."
The Elizabethan Age, then, was an Age of Discovery, of the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the exploration of human nature itself. The basic assumptions underpinning feudalism/Scholasticism were openly challenged with the support of Elizabeth and, equally so, by her successor on the throne, James I. There was in all this an optimism about humanity and its future and an even greater optimism about the destiny of England in the world at large. Nevertheless, the Elizabethans also recognized that the course of history is problematic, that Fortune can undo even the greatest and most promising, as Shakespeare reveals in such plays as Antony & Cleopatra. More specifically, Shakespeare and his audiences were keenly aware of the prior century's prolonged bloodshed during the War of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. Many Elizabethans, particularly the prosperous, feared the prospect of civil insurrection and the destruction of the commonwealth, whether as a result of an uprising from below or of usurpation at the top. Thus, whether or not we consider Shakespeare to have been a political conservative, his histories, tragedies and even his romances and comedies are slanted toward the restoration or maintenance of civil harmony and the status quo of legitimate rule.



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