From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 16 was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays,154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613.His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.
Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare’s.
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare’s genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called “bardolatry”. In the 20th century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised there on 26 April 1564. His actual birthdate remains unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, St George’s Day.[ This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar’s mistake, has proved appealing to biographers, since Shakespeare died 23 April 1616. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.
Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the King’s New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553, about a quarter-mile from his home. Grammar schools varied in quality during the Elizabethan era, but the curriculum was dictated by law throughout England, and the school would have provided an intensive education in Latin grammar and the classics.
At the age of 18, Shakespeare married the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway. The consistory court of the Diocese of Worcester issued a marriage licence 27 November 1582. The next day two of Hathaway’s neighbours posted bonds guaranteeing that no lawful claims impeded the marriage. The ceremony may have been arranged in some haste, since the Worcester chancellor allowed the marriage banns to be read once instead of the usual three times, and six months after the marriage Anne gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, baptised 26 May 1583. Twins, son Hamnet and daughter Judith, followed almost two years later and were baptised 2 February 1585. Hamnet died of unknown causes at the age of 11 and was buried 11 August 1596.
After the birth of the twins, Shakespeare left few historical traces until he is mentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592, and scholars refer to the years between 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare’s “lost years”. Biographers attempting to account for this period have reported many apocryphal stories. Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare’s first biographer, recounted a Stratford legend that Shakespeare fled the town for London to escape prosecution for deer poaching in the estate of local squire Thomas Lucy. Shakespeare is also supposed to have taken his revenge on Lucy by writing a scurrilous ballad about him. Another 18th-century story has Shakespeare starting his theatrical career minding the horses of theatre patrons in London. John Aubrey reported that Shakespeare had been a country schoolmaster. Some 20th-century scholars have suggested that Shakespeare may have been employed as a schoolmaster by Alexander Hoghton of Lancashire, a Catholic landowner who named a certain “William Shakeshafte” in his will. No evidence substantiates such stories other than hearsay collected after his death, and Shakeshafte was a common name in the Lancashire area.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
This work was done with a death mask of William Shakespeare:
The following Blog was written by Mary Harrsch:
Two years ago I posted an abstract from an article about the controversy surrounding a death mask identified as William Shakespeare. I recently received an email from University of Mainz academic Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, who is a champion of the mask, pointing out that she has written a book about the mask entitled “The True Face of William Shakespeare. The Poet’s Death Mask and Likenesses from Three Periods of His Life”. In it, she explains the scientific methods she used to analyze the mask and compare it to four Shakespearean portraits.
She also includes information about how the portraits and mask point to the cause of Shakespeare’s early death at 52 years old.
“By combining exhaustive academic research with the latest technology and collaborating over
many years with specialists from the most varied disciplines – including forensic experts from the German Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BKA=CID), Professors of Medicine, 3D imaging engineers, archivists and an expert on old masters – Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel has proved the authenticity of the Chandos portrait, the Darmstadt death mask and the Flower portrait (recently incorrectly dismissed as a ‘fake’ by the National Portrait Gallery, as shown by the author’s latest evidence). Her revolutionary research has also authenticated another true face of Shakespeare – the Davenant bust. This haunting sculpture has resided in the Garrick Club since 1855 and was thought to be the work of an eighteenth century sculptor. According to the author’s new documentary sources, it derives from the collection of Sir William Davenant (1606-1668), Shakespeare’s godson, who also owned the Chandos portrait.
By tracing the development of certain signs of illness in each of the images, first noticed by Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, the author’s medical experts have identified and verified the most probable cause of Shakespeare’s death. The conspicuous growth on the upper left eyelid, they interpreted as Mikulicz Syndrome (a probably cancerous abnormality of the tear glands), the swelling in the nasal corner of the left eye as a fine caruncular tumour, and the considerable swelling on the forehead (in conjunction with the other pathological symptoms) as systemic sarcoidosis, an inner disease that affects the organs and takes a very protracted course, but proves to be fatal."
Professor Hammerschmidt-Hummel has also written a comprehensive biography of William Shakespeare that was released in October 2007.
“In this extraordinary study, Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel sets the great English playwright firmly in his time and reveals his deep involvement in the dramatic political events of the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. After coming to the throne, Queen Elizabeth I made Anglicanism, a version of the Protestant faith, the official State religion. Catholicism was to be eradicated within her own lifetime. Brutal persecution of priests and believers in the Old Religion followed, and they were forced to go underground or into exile. This background of religious ferment meant that, due to their potentially explosive content, nearly half of Shakepeare’s works could not be published during his lifetime, only becoming public seven
years after his death. Hammerschmidt-Hummel demonstrates how this turbulent religious and political backdrop is the key to understanding so many of the secrets and puzzles of Shakespeare’s life and work.
Who were Shakespeare’s friends and enemies? What did he do during his ‘lost years’? How did he manage to become the most influential writer in England in such a short time? What did his contemporaries think and write about him? Why did he stop writing comedies, suddenly
producing mainly tragedies and problem plays? Is Hamlet, the tragedy of a great Prince in a rotten State, a reflection of the dramatic and tragic events at the end of the Elizabethan age? And why did Shakespeare fail to write one word of homage to the dead Queen after her 45-year reign? Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel answers these and other key questions in this comprehensive and groundbreaking biography of William Shakespeare. "
Professor Hammerschmidt-Hummel’s website: http://www.hammerschmidt-hummel.de
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