Life of William Shakespeare



William Shakespeare

Around 1568, a group of actors visited Stratford and put on a play before the entire town, with permission from John Shakespeare, the mayor of the town. The people loved the play, especially the small children. All of them looked up to the actors, as they returned each year to perform different plays. They had dreams of one day becoming actors, but only one of these children fulfilled this dream. This child was the mayor’s son, William Shakespeare.
At this time, actors in England usually spent their careers traveling to new towns, performing plays at city buildings or local inns. However, with the help of James Burbage, this all changed. James Burbage designed and built the first theatre in England. The actors could then settle down in one place and perform in a place built for plays. The theatre was a huge success, and many more began popping up over England, but this theatre built by James Burbage was forever known as The Theatre.
The layout of the stage consisted of five levels. The lowest level was for trap doors built into the stage. The next level was the main stage, where the actors did most of their performing. Above this was the balcony level, which could be used to represent anything from a city wall to a mountain. The next level contained pulleys which could raise or lower anything from above. The top level was used for creating sounds of rain or thunder, or dropping important objects from the sky.
William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at age 18. In two years, they had three children, a daughter named Susanna, and twins, Hamnet and Judith. He didn’t stay in Stratford long after this though. He left his family to pursue a career as an actor in London.
Shakespeare wrote his first play in 1592. It was a historical play called Henry VI, which was one of the biggest successes of the year. Some scholars criticized him because he did not have a university education like most playwrites, but probably the only reason he was criticized for this was because his play was so popular.
After the success of his historical play, he wrote a tragedy called Titus Andronicus, and then The Comedy of Errors, a humorous comedy. Not many playwrites wrote so many different types of plays in so short a time, but Shakespeare was certainly not like any other English playwrite.
Very early in Shakespeare’s career, however, many theatres closed due to the plague in England, and playwrites were not in high demand. Shakespeare then turned to another type of writing and wrote a narrative poem entitled Venus and Adonis. This was a huge success and he received praise for it by the scholars who gave him no respect as a playwrite. His next poem was called Lucrece, which was just as successful as his first. In spite of his success as a poet, he gave up poetry after Lucrece was published. He joined Lord Chamberlain’s Acting Company in 1594, and for the rest of his career, he only wrote plays for this company.
Other actors in Shakespeare’s company included Will Kempe, the most popular comic of his time, and Richard Burbage, son of James Burbage, the designer of The Theatre. Other important members of the company were John Heminges, who was their permanent business manager, and Henry Condell, another actor in the company. These two men later published the first complete edition of Shakespeare’s play, after Shakespeare’s death.
Shakespeare wrote many plays which were adaptations of earlier plots. Some of these include King John, The Taming of The Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet. Some said he could turn a flat, one-sided plot into a masterpiece. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare mixes the humor of Mercutio and Juliet’s nurse into a serious tragedy. Not many playwrites of this time mixed comedy with tragedy, but he did this because the two elements combine in real life and he felt they were free to combine in his plays.
None of the critics who had praised his poems ever mentioned his plays. However, he was singled out by Francis Meres, a London writer. Meres stated, "Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds of the stage." Meres was not a distinguished literary critic, but he reassured