William Shakespeare: Life
William Shakespeare was born on 23 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, six years aller Elizabelh I (Tudor Dynasty) became Queen.
His baptism is recorded in the register of Holy Trinity Church on April 26, 1564.
He was born in the upstairs bedroom at Henley Sheet, and was one of eight children of Mary Arden and John Shakespeare.
John Shakespeare was a successful tradesman working with leather -
making gloves, purses, aprons and belts. He also sold wool and barley,
important products in the England ot those times. His father was a
respecled man who look part in civic life. In 1568 he was made bailiff,
a position corresponding to mayor.
William Shakespeare went to the local grammar school in Stratford. His
education was typically Tudor. The 'grammar' schools were the most
common form of education, and they were free.
Apparently he didn't learn very much because his friend and admirer, Ben Johnson, said he had 'small Latin and. less Greek'.
He would also have learnt the Catechism and studied the Bible. Altough
he was brought up with these orthodox Protesiant teachings. The managed
to remain open-minded and a free-thinker. The Bible was a constant
source of inspiralion to him, yet his plays lack the rigidity of dogma.
Stratford-upon-Avon was a flourishing market town which became husy on
fair days. In Elizabethan times, England was known as Merry England for
different celebrations and festivals. Acting was part of local village
culture. Amateur actors would come to town and their performances gave
people a release from the problems of everyday life.
In the 16th century plays were performed in the courtyards of inns. The
actors would put up a temporary stage opposite the main entrance and
the audience could sit around the three sides of the stage. The noble
men would pay the innkeeper for the privilege of sitting in a balcony
overlooking the courtyard or even directly on the stage. William as a
young boy and later as a young man had plenty of opportunity to see
plays and players from various travelling companies. All this must have
been a wanderful experience for his personality and imagination.
William married Ann Hathaway from Shotery in 1582. He was only eighteen
and half. Ann was eight years older. They had three children together –
Susanna and the twins - Hamnet and Judith.
Spite of his love for his family, he went to London in 1587 as it was
only there that man with his talenls could get ahead and make a careor
Shakespeare's life in London can be acted from 1592 onwards, first as
an actor then as a reviser and writer of days. When he came to London
it was the most exciting time. Mary Queen of Scots had just been
executed, Phillip II of Spain was building up the Armada as father
Raleigh and Francis Drake, the sea pirates represented constant danger
for the Spanish ships.
The theatres were very popular being the only places where people could hear honest comments about life.
Shakespeare and his fellow players were lucky enough to be able to win
the patronage of the Lord Chamberlain, and the company came to be
called the Lord Chamberlain‘s Men.
The company was made up of about a dozen actors (no actresses at all).
Each actor played 2-3 roles in a single play. Very little time was
given to group rehearsals and actors were given only the words of their
When Shakespeare was working in London, he did not leave his family for
good. He would often return home to Stratford enjoying the pleasures of
His plays may well have been popular with Queen Elizabeth I, who loved
music and drama. When James I (the son of Mary Stuart) came to the
throne after Elizabeltľs death, he recognizeed Shakespeare's company as
the leading group of actors and from then on they were known as the
In those times Shakespeare made enough money to build a comfortable life.
In an age when few men lived past 60. Shakespeare, now nearly 52, made
his will. It was compleled in March 1616. Almost exactly a month later,
after spending an enjoyable evening with his friends. Shakespeare fell
ill with a temperalure. He did not recover and died on 23 April 1616 -
the same day as his birth. He was exactly 52 years old. Two days later,
his funeral service took place in Holy Tnnity Church, where he had been