Shakespeare Life

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Shakespeare Life

England's greatest poet and playwright was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, the son
of a tradesman and Alderman of Stratford, John Shakespeare in 1564. William, the
eldest son, and third child (of eight) was baptised on 26th April 1564 and
probably educated at Stratford Grammar School, but little is known of his life
up to his eighteenth year. He did not go to University and his younger
contemporary and fellow-dramatist, Ben Johnson, would later speak disparagingly
of his "small Latin, and less Greek" in the eulogy prefaced to the
Firs Folio. However the Grammar School curriculum would have provided a
formidable linguistic, and to some extent literary, education. Although, in 1575
when he was eleven, there was a great plague in the country and Queen Elizabeth
journeyed out of London to avoid its consequences and stayed for several days at
Kenilworth Castle near Stratford enjoying "festivities" arranged by
her host Lord Leicester. It is probable these events may have made a strong
impact on the mind of young William. At the age of Eighteen, he married Anne
Hathaway, eight years his senior. Five years later he left for London. William
worked at the Globe Theatre and appeared in many small parts. He first appeared
in public as a poet in 1593 with his Venus and Adonis and the following year
with The Rape of Lucrece. He became joint proprietor of The Globe and also had
an interest in the Blackfriars Theatre. The play writing commenced in 1595 and
of the 38 plays that comprise the Shakespeare Cannon, 36 were published in the
1st Folio of 1623, of which 18 had been published in his lifetime in what are
termed the Quarto publications. Love's Labour's Lost and The Comedy of Errors
appear to be among the earliest, being followed by The Two Gentlemen of Verona
and Romeo and Juliet. Then followed Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II, Titus
Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, The Merchant of Venice, A
Midsummer Night's Dream, All's Well that Ends Well, Henry IV, The Merry Wives of
Windsor, Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, As you like it, Twelth Night, Julius
Caesar, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Measure for Measure, Macbeth,
King Lear, Timon of Athens...

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