The Plays of William Shakspeare

Front Cover
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009 - 404 pages
Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF SHAKSPEARE. W Illiam Shakspeaiie was born at Stratford-upon- Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d day of April, 1564. Of the rank of his family it is not easy to form an opinion. Mr. Rowe says, that according to the register and certain public writings relating to Stratford, his ancestors were of good figure and fashion in that town, and are mentioned as gentlemen; but the result of the late as well as early inquiries made by Mr. Malone is, that the epithet gentleman was first applied to the poet, and even to him at a late period of his life. Mr. Malone's inclination to elevate Shakspeare's family cannot be doubted, yet he is obliged to confess that, after thirty years' labour, he could find no evidence to support it. His father, John Shakspeare, according to Mr. Malone's conjecture, was born in or before the year 1530. John Shakspeare was not originally of Stratford, but, perhaps, says Mr. Malone, of Snitterfield, which is but three miles from Stratford. Hfe came to Stratford not very long after the year 1550. Former accounts have reported him to have been a considerable dealer in wool, but Mr. Malone has discovered that he was aglover; and, to add importance to this discovery ', he has given us a historical dissertation upon the state of the glove-trade in queen Elizabeth's time. But, notwithstanding the flourishing state of that trade in Stratford, and a conjecture, that John Shakspeare furnished his customers with leathern hose, aprons, belts, points, jerkins, pouches, wallets, satchels, and purses, Mr. Malone confesses, that from all this, the poet's father derived but a scanty maintenance. John Shakspeare had been, in 1568, an officer or bailiff (high-bailiff or mayor) of the body corporate of Stratford, and chief alderman in 1571. ...

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About the author (2009)

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

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