Thursday, 17 March 2011

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.

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