"Perfectly Imperfect: The Shakespeare Story"
Few authors today write with such universal understanding that their
works will be popular with all types of people, and so successfully that their
work survives centuries. These authors posses qualities we can seldom identify
in their lifetimes. Yet we do know this -- William Shakespeare was one of them.
William Shakespeare's parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden.
John Shakespeare was born in 1529. His father was a small tenant farmer in
Snitterfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon. He became a successful glover and
trader, and owned civic office in Stratford. He was not born to the nobility,
but he did have some authority in the town. In 1596 he was given by the College
of Arms the right to a coat of arms and a crest. Doing that advanced his status
to that of a country gentleman. He would belong to the upper class of rural
society. That was the class just under the knights and the nobility to which the
country gentleman could be promoted if he made money in trade or the law and had
influence at court. His rise in authority began the year after he was married.
He became constable of Stratford, in charge of keeping the town safe. From 1561
to 1565, he was Chamberlain, responsible for the oversight and maintenance of
Corporation of Stratford property. In 1564, his name appeared on the list of
Capital Burgesses. He was likely a member for a number of years, just without
his name on the list. Capital Burgesses were the main English parliament
representatives for towns or boroughs. Later on, he was bailiff of the town,
and held many important positions throughout his life. William Shakespeare's
mother, Mary Arden, was born to nobility, a wealthy family. She was the
youngest daughter of Robert Arden, also a country gentleman, of Wilmcote. He
left in his will to Mary the estate of Asbies in Wilmcote and six pounds,
thirteen shillings, and sixpence. Within a year of her father's death, in 1557,
Mary married John Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare was the third child, born after Joan and Margaret
Shakespeare. Margaret died before William was born, and Joan died sometime
before 1569. William was born in 1564. His exact birth date is not known,
though it is known that he was baptized on April 26 in the Holy Trinity Church
of Stratford. His birthday could have been any of the four or five days before
that day. Traditionally, it has been said that he was born on t...