William Shakespeare biography




William Shakespeare biography


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Biography of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, moved to Stratford-upon-Avon in the mid-sixteenth century, where he became a successful landowner, moneylender, wool and agricultural goods dealer, and glover. In 1557, he married Mary Arden. John Shakespeare lived during a time when the middle class grew and became wealthier and wealthier, thus allowing its members increasing freedoms, luxuries and voice in the local government. He took advantage of the opportunities through this social growth and in 1557 became a member of the Stratford Council, an event which marked the beginning of an illustrious political career. By 1561 he was elected one of the town’s fourteen burgesses, where he served as constable, one of two chamberlains, and alderman successively; in these positions he administered property and revenues. In 1567 he was made bailiff, the highest elected office in Stratford, and the equivalent of a modern day mayor.

The town records indicate that William Shakespeare was John and Mary’s third child. His birth is unregistered, but legend places it on April 23, 1564, partially because April 23 is the day on which he died 52 years later. In any event, his baptism was registered with the town on April 26, 1564. Not much is known about William’s childhood, although it is safe to assume that he attended the local grammar school, the King’s New School, which was staffed with a faculty who held Oxford degrees, and whose curriculum included mathematics, natural sciences, Latin language and rhetoric, logic, Christian ethics, and classical literature. He did not attend the university, which was not unusual at this time, since university education was reserved for prospective clergymen and was not a particularly mind-opening experience. However, the education he received at grammar school was excellent, as evidenced by the numerous classical and literary references in his plays. His early works especially drew on such Greek and Roman greats as Seneca and Plautus. What is more impressive than his formal education, however, is the wealth of general knowledge exhibited in William Shakespeare’s works from a working knowledge of many professions to his vocabulary.

In 1582, at the age of eighteen, William Shakespeare married the twenty-six year old Anne Hathaway. Their first daughter, Susanna, was baptized only six months later, which has given rise to much speculation concerning the circumstances surrounding the marriage. In 1585, twins were born to the couple, and baptized Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare. Hamnet died at the young age of eleven by which time Shakespeare was already a successful playwright. Around 1589, Shakespeare wrote his first play, Henry VI, Part One. Sometime between his marriage and writing this play he and his wife moved to London, where he pursued a career as a playwright and actor.

Although there are many records of his life as a citizen of Stratford, including marriage and birth certificates, very little information exists about his life as a young playwright. Legend characterizes Shakespeare as a roguish young scrapper who was once forced to flee London under sketchy circumstances. However, the little written information we have of his early years does not confirm this. Young Will was not an immediate and universal success; the earliest written record of Shakespeare’s life in London comes from a statement by rival playwright Robert Greene, who calls Shakespeare an “upstart crow…[who] supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you:” – hardly high praise.

In 1594, Shakespeare became a charter member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a group of actors who later changed their name to the King’s Men when they gained sponsorship of King James I. by 1598 he was “principal comedian” for the troupe, and by 1603 he was “principal tragedian.” Acting and writing plays at this time were not considered noble professions, but successful and prosperous actors were relatively well-respected. Shakespeare was very successful and made quite a bit of money. He invested this money in Stratford real estate and was able to purchase the second largest house in Stratford, the New Place, for his parents in 1597. in 1596 Shakespeare applied for a coat of arms for his family, in effect making himself into a gentleman, and his daughters married successfully and wealthily.

William Shakespeare lived until 1616 while his wife Anne died in 1623 at the age of sixty-seven. He was buried in Stratford.



Chronology of Shakespeare’s Plays
Although there are some differenced of opinion concerning the specific dates of when Shakespeare wrote his plays, the following sequence, which has a slight overlap, is the general consensus of when Shakespeare’s plays were written.






Comedy of Errors
Taming of the Shrew
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Love’s Labour’s Lost

Henry VI, part one
Henry VI, part two
Henry VI, part three
Richard III

Titus Andronicus


Midsummer Night’s Dream
Merchant of Venice
Much Ado about Nothing
Merry Wives of Windsor
As you Like It
Twelfth Night

Richard II
King John
Henry IV, part one
Henry Iv, part two
Henry V

Romeo and Julie
Julius Caesar


Troillius and Cressida
All’s Well That Ends Well
Measure for Measure


King Lear
Timon of Athens
Anthony and Cleopatra


Winter’s Tale

Henry VIII



Source http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/curriculum/ModelCurriculum/power_loyalty_using_invest_skills_to_study_julius/shakespeare_biography.doc

Author : not indicated on the document source



William Shakespeare biography


William Shakespeare’s Life and Times  
Born – 1564    Died – 1616

Not much is known about Shakespeare’s early life. He was the son of a tanner who belonged to the middle class. He grew up in a small town outside of London called Stratford-upon-Avon, and he probably attended the grammar school there. In 1582, he married Anne Hathaway and had three children.

By 1592, Shakespeare is known to have moved to London and to have established himself as an actor and a playwright. Note that he wrote plays in order to make a living!

Shakespeare was known to be a shareholder in a prominent theater troupe with close ties to the court of Elizabeth I. Shakespeare and others established the Globe Theater.

He wrote approximately 37 plays between 1592 and 1613. Plays were meant to be watched.

After his death, Shakespeare’s plays were divided into three categories and published.

Richard II
Richard III

Much Ado About Nothing
The Taming of the Shrew

Julius Caesar
Romeo & Juliet

History plays chronicled the lives of English monarchs; tragedies chronicled the downfall of a tragic hero, while comedies always ended happily.

Shakespeare is famous for using the following techniques: low humor (slapstick), supernatural elements, a play within a play, puns and other plays on words, mistaken identity.

Shakespeare’s plays live on because their themes are universal. The stories have the same appeal for today’s audiences as they did for Elizabethan audiences.

Elizabethan England
The era is named for Queen Elizabeth I of England because she created the economic and political situation that allowed the Renaissance to spread from mainland Europe to England. Elizabeth ruled England from 1558 until 1603.

Queen Elizabeth I was nicknamed the Virgin Queen because she never married in order to protect England from outside control. (Royalty married royalty and Elizabeth did not want to give control of England to a foreign king. King Philip of Spain in particular wanted to marry Elizabeth in order to gain control of England.) The U.S. state of Virginia is name for Elizabeth.

Since people did not need to worry about political or economic problems (e.g. war or hunger), they were able to focus on more enjoyable pursuits. As a result, the arts began to flourish during Elizabeth’s reign. She particularly liked the theater.

Most “regular” people of this time period were illiterate, which is why plays were so important. This was their only form of entertainment. Theatrical troupes traveled from town to town performing wherever space was available. Actual theaters were eventually established in London. The Globe Theater was established by Shakespeare and others around 1599.  

In order to capture the attention of audiences who were mostly uneducated, plays contained “low” humor and a lot of physical activity.

English royalty/nobility also attended plays; therefore, the plays also contained intellectual humor (plays on words) and themes of interest to an educated audience.

                                                           Characteristics of a Tragic Hero…
• The tragic hero is a character who falls from a great height.

• The tragic hero has a tragic flaw which leads to his downfall. (The character is neither good nor bad.)

• Before the end of the story, the character recognizes his tragic flaw and accepts that he brought his fate upon himself. (In other words, the tragic hero takes responsibility for his actions and for the outcome of those actions.)
Shakespearean Language
Shakespeare is considered to be a genius. He wrote 37 plays in approximately 21 years and is believed to have coined over 1,000 words, many of which are still in use today.

Despite his genius, it is Shakespeare’s language that sometimes makes his plays difficult to understand; however, once readers learn to recognize his techniques, the meaning behind the words begins to shine through.
Shakespeare wrote in blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter (each line equals five iambs). One iamb is called a foot. Each foot contains one unstressed and one stressed syllable.

In order to maintain his meter, Shakespeare sometimes altered standard English in the following ways:

• He sometimes changed grammar.
• He sometimes inverted word order.
• He sometimes omitted words or letters.

In addition to changing standard English to fit his meter, Shakespeare also liked to play with words.

• He is known for using puns, or words with more than one meaning.
• He sometimes used the archaic form of the pronoun “you” (thou, thy, thine, thee). Shakespeare’s characters often use the archaic form of “you” to address a subordinate or an equal.

Shakespeare wrote his plays approximately 400 years ago during which time the English language evolved.

• Many words used by Shakespeare are now archaic, which means that we no longer use them.
• Other words used by Shakespeare are now used differently. In other words, the meanings of some words have changed over time.




Author : not indicated on the document source thanks to http://www.tvusd.k12.ca.us/


Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Historical Notes

Macbeth (c.1005 - 1057)



c.1040, Macbeth King of Scots  ©
Shakespeare's Macbeth bears little resemblance to the real 11th century Scottish king.
Mac Bethad mac Findláich, known in English as Macbeth, was born in around 1005. His father was Finlay, Mormaer of Moray, and his mother may have been Donada, second daughter of Malcolm II. A Mormaer was literally a high steward of one of the ancient Celtic provinces of Scotland, but in Latin documents the word is usually translated as 'Comes', which means earl.
In August 1040, he killed the ruling king, Duncan I, in battle near Elgin, Morayshire. Macbeth became king. His marriage to Kenneth III's granddaughter Gruoch strengthened his claim to the throne. In 1045, Macbeth defeated and killed Duncan I's father Crinan at Dunkeld.
For 14 years Macbeth seems to have ruled equably, imposing law and order and encouraging Christianity. In 1050 he is known to have travelled to Rome for a papal jubilee. He was also a brave leader and made successful forays over the border into Northumbria, England.
In 1054, Macbeth was challenged by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, who was attempting to return Duncan's son Malcolm Canmore, who was his nephew, to the throne. In August 1057, Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire by Malcolm Canmore (later Malcolm III).



James I, King of England, VI of Scotland (1566 - 1625)

Portrait of James I after John De Critz the Elder ©

James was offspring of the doomed match between Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, who was murdered early in 1567 before James was one year old. Mary was forced to abdicate in favour of her son when he was only 13 months, and the infant king took up the Scottish throne.  James' childhood was turbulent, marred by a long and troubled minority which saw a succession of regents as well as civil war.
James became the first Stuart king of England in 1603 under the terms of the Treaty of Berwick which he had signed with Elizabeth I in 1586. The Treaty pledged allegiance between the two countries and promised mutual help against invasion, thus protecting England from France. And so James acquiesced to his mother's execution and remained neutral when the Spanish Armada threatened English shores.
As Scottish king he consented to an act of parliament establishing Presbyterianism in Scotland and with support he subdued the Roman Catholic earls. He married Anne of Denmark whom he loved and together they had nine children.
The move to England came with the death of Elizabeth. On arrival he realised that he was considered an alien and his strong opinions about the divine right of kings earned him a reputation for narrow-mindedness and intellectual bullying.
He made it clear that he intended to radically change the Elizabethan church, heralding his cause with the slogan, 'No bishop, no king!' Although this prompted Catholic reaction, such as the failed Gunpowder plot, James was able to make a lasting impression on church history, commissioning a version of the Bible that was to become the standard text for more than 250 years - the King James Bible. His run-ins with Parliament, which led for example to the Addled Parliament in 1614, did not lead to serious rebellion. And in foreign policy he was an arbitrator: he made peace with Spain and aspired to achieve even greater stability throughout Europe, but his efforts were thwarted by Protestant opinion in Britain and Spanish resistance. Further abroad, he reigned over the beginning of Empire and authorized the Evangelistic Grant Charter to settle the Colony of Virginia.
As well as numerous attempts on his life, James I (VI of Scotland) suffered from ill-health and depression after the early death of Prince Henry in 1612. He was particularly distraught at the loss of his beloved wife in 1619. The King himself passed away on March 27th, 1625, and is buried in Westminster.


In November 1605, the infamous Gunpowder Plot took place in which some Catholics, most famously Guy Fawkes, plotted to blow up James I, the first of the Stuart kings of England. The story is remembered each November 5th when ‘Guys’ are burned in a celebration known as "Bonfire Night".
Catholics in England had expected James to be more tolerant of them. In fact, he had proved to be the opposite and had ordered all Catholic priests to leave England. This so angered some Catholics that they decided to kill James and put his daughter Elizabeth on the throne ensuring that she was a Catholic. This led to a plot to kill not only the king of England, James, but also everyone sitting in the Houses of Parliament at the same time as James was there when he opened Parliament on November 5th, 1605.
Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, having rented out a house right by the Houses of Parliament, managed to get 36 barrels of gunpowder into a cellar of the House of Lords.

The most famous picture of some the conspirators
The explosive expert, Guy Fawkes, had been left in the cellars to set off the fuse. He was only caught when a group of guards decided to check the cellars at the last moment.
Fawkes was arrested and sent to the Tower of London where he was tortured and eventually gave away the names of the fellow conspirators. 
Sir William Wade, Lieutenant of the Tower, had orders to use whatever means of torture was required to get information from Fawkes. The order came from James. 
Of those involved, some were shot as they were chased by the law such as Percy and Catesby. Others were captured, sent to the Tower and, after a brief trial, eventually hung, drawn and quartered, with Fawkes, in January 1606. 
In celebration of his survival, James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire in the night on November 5th. This fire was traditionally topped off with an effigy of the pope rather than Guy Fawkes. His place at the top of the fire came in later as did fireworks. The East Sussex county town of Lewes still has the pope alongside Guy Fawkes when it comes to the effigies being burned. (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/guy_fawkes.htm)
King James and Witches
Witch-hunting was a respectable, moral, and highly intellectual pursuit through much of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, though thousands of witches were burned on the Continent, relatively few witches were executed during Elizabeth's reign--as in so many things, she avoided extremes.
Scotland's witch-hunting had its origins in the marriage of King James to Princess Anne of Denmark.  Anne's voyage to Scotland for the wedding met with a bad storm, and she ended up taking refuge in Norway.  James traveled to Scandinavia and the wedding took place in at Kronborg Castle in Denmark.  After a long honeymoon in Denmark, the royal newlyweds encountered terrible seas on the return voyage, which the ship's captain blamed on witches.  When six Danish women confessed to having caused the storms that bedeviled King James, he began to take witchcraft seriously.  Back in Scotland, the paranoid James authorized torture of suspected witches.  Dozens of condemned witches in the North Berwick area were burned at the stake in what would be the largest witch-hunt in British history.  By 1597, James began to address some of the worst prosecutorial abuses, and witch-hunting abated somewhat
.But King James (who came to the throne in 1603, and who claimed to be descended from Banquo) took a special interest in the subject. In 1597 he published a book that he had written on the subject of witchcraft, his Daemonologie. In this work, James put the traditional arguments in favour of a belief in witchcraft, and his lifelong interest in the subject is evidenced by the fact that he himself participated in a number of trials of alleged witches...


From the Daemonologie

In the dialogue, the authority-figure, Epistemon, explains what kinds of "unlawful charms, without natural causes" are to be considered witchcraft:
I mean by such kind of charms as commonly daft wives use, for healing of forspoken [bewitched] goods, for preserving them from evil eyes, by knitting . . . sundry kinds of herbs to the hair or tails of the goods; by curing the worm, by stemming of blood, by healing of horse-crooks, . . . or doing of such like innumerable things by words, without applying anything meet to the part offended, as mediciners do.
James saw Macbeth, and some parts of the play were designed to be complimentary to him*, so it is inevitable that Shakespeare had his views in mind as he was writing.

After the Gunpowder Plot
In some quarters, it was said that the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 involved not just disgruntled Catholics, but satanic masses and witchcraft.   These reports created a heightened interest in witches, an interest which is reflected in Shakespeare’s play about the betrayal and murder of a good and just king.  Witches represent evil in the play as well as the catastrophic disorder which assaults the world when a monarch is murdered.     

Source :http://internetshakespeare.uvic. ca/Library/SLT/ideas/daemonologie.html



William Shakespeare biography



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William Shakespeare biography



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William Shakespeare biography