The Life of the Great William Shakespeare


Cheryl Bowman

Mrs. Bembas

2nd. Period English

6 May 1996


The Life of the Great William Shakespeare
There are many authors that are widely read. However, none are more universally read and studied than the great William Shakespeare of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His plays and poems have moved millions of people, unofficially giving him the well-deserved title of the greatest of all dramatists. Shakespeare is the basis for excellence in literacy and theatrical performances. Although occasionally confusing to the reader, Shakespeare\'s work is a blend of inspirational quotes and dramatic plots.
Many details of Shakespeare\'s childhood in Stratford, England are lacking, but we do know a few major facts. John Shakespeare, the father of this elite writer was a "burgess of the borough" (Encarta \'96), the position corresponding to mayor for the town of Stratford. His mother, Mary Arden, was a descendant of a rich, ancient family, and was the heiress to some land. They got married, thus moving John and Mary Shakespeare up a step on the social scale. Together, they bore eight children, the third and oldest son, William Shakespeare was born in 1564, and they baptized him in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
The Shakespeare family was not rich and therefore could not afford to send their children to a "private school," and it is commonly accepted that the children attended Stratford\'s Grammar School.
"William\'s education consisted of mostly Latin studies (learning to read, write, and speak the language almost fluently), and the study of some of the classic historians, moralists, and poets. Of course, they also had basic math and English, but all this was only a minimal education, for it was assumed that the children would go to the university to enhance their knowledge toward the field of their choice" (Britannica 253-254).
William Shakespeare, however, did not go to the university, and instead tried his hand at life with only the education he received at the local grammar school. This surprises most historians; they find it hard to believe that one with minimal education could write such historically accurate plays. This generally makes us assume that he liked school, and did well in it, but there are no records from the school at Shakespeare\'s time.
After graduating from the Stratford Grammar School at the age of 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. There are no indications of how Ms. Hathaway and William Shakespeare met; however they got married quickly after meeting. The preserved marriage license is still in tact, and shows the bishop\'s authority for the marriage of "William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway of Stratford" (Encyclopedia Americana 104). In only a few short years, the newlyweds gave birth to Susanna, who was baptized on May 26, 1583, then twins Hamnet and Judith, who were baptized on February 2, 1585. Unfortunately, the boy Hamnet, Shakespeare\'s only son, died 11 years later (Britannica 254).
Shakespeare and his new family didn\'t stay long in Stratford and eight years after the birth of his twins, they moved to London. There are many theories as to what Shakespeare had done in those eight years and what made him move. "The most accepted theory is that he worked odd jobs for minimal pay and decided to move to London to avoid getting in trouble for poaching deer in the park of Sir Thomas Lucy, a local justice of the peace" (Encarta 96). As funny as it seems, it is on record that Shakespeare was caught poaching deer; however, there is no indication of a punishment, leaving room for rumors to begin about why he actually moved.
Once the Shakespeare family moved to London in 1588, they needed a start. He began working in the Globe Theater and in his spare time wrote his first poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrese in 1594, once people started reading his plays and watching him on stage. They then realized that Shakespeare was a talented man. Other works began to circulate around like his Sonnets which drew more attention and fame to his name. The hard part was behind him and Shakespeare now had a base to his career as a writer and entertainer (Encyclopedia Americana 104).
"Shakespeare\'s works are usually divided into different groups, according to the time periods in which they