William Shakespeare is considered as the world’s greatest English language playwright. He existed between 1564 to 1616, a period known as English Renaissance (Hinton 1). Shakespeare is renowned for his work as a playwright, poet, and actor. Among his most famous works include the Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth. This essay will discuss the life Shakespeare following a directed order to describe his general life, plays, performances, and poems.
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare. He is indicated to have been educated at the King’s New School in Stratford. He got married at the age of 18 to Anne Hathway who was 26-year-old. They were blessed with three children; Susan, and Twins Hamnet (who died at age of 11) and Judith (Eick 9). The exact period when Shakespeare began his writing is not known but records point to 1952 as the most probable year when some of his plays hit the stage. Shakespeare’s plays were performed by a group of actors from a company referred to at Lord Chamberlain’s Men which later expanded to own their theatre (Janson 3). Shakespeare was noted to split his career time between London and Stratford. The last active years of Shakespeare as a writer were between 1610-1613. His last three plays were co-authored by John fletcher who took over the leadership of the Theatre company that had been renamed to King’s Men (Janson 4)
The first recorded plays of Shakespeare are said to be Richards III and parts of Henry VI in the early 1590s when period of historical drama. Other works believed to have been written in his early period include Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, the Taming of the Shrew, and The Gentlemen of Verona. It has been noted that most of his early plays were influenced by other contributions of the Elizabethan dramatists, the traditions of the medieval drama, and the plays of Seneca. His early classicals and comedies contained double plots and precise comic sequences which is said to have led to the romantic themes of his famous comedies. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play that was a combination of romance, fairy magic and comic scenes. Other plays in Shakespeare’s list of great comedies include Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like, and Twelfth Night. Henry IV part 1 & 2 and Henry V were examples of Shakespeare’s work comprised of prose comedy done in late 590s (Hinton 6). He increased the complexity of his character and alternated between comic, serious scenes, prose, and poetry. This period was marked by his famous tragedies Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar. Examples of problem plays done in the 17th century include Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, and All’s Well that Ends Well. Other great tragedy play includes the Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus plays that contain some of his great poetry works (Janson 6).
Not much is known about the companies that performed his early works. His later plays were said to have been performed by his own company at The Theatre and Curtain in Shoreditch (Janson 7). Shakespeare’s company constructed their own theatre at Globe theatre that marked the first ever theatre to be constructed by actors for themselves. Among the first plays staged there was Julius Caesar. Other plays by Shakespeare acted there include Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. The company got into an agreement the King and renamed to King’s Men. This saw seven of his plays, including that of Merchant of Venice, staged that the Royal Court. Tragedy struck when the Globe caught fire and was burned to ground on 29th June 1613 (Janson 7).
At a period when the theatres were on lockdown due to plague, Shakespeare published two narrative poems based on erotic themes, Venus and Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece. Other poems by Shakespeare in this period include Lovers Complaint, The Phoenix and the Turtle and The Love’s Martyr. The Sonnets which was published in 1609, contains 154 sonnets assumed to have been composed throughout the career of Shakespeare (Janson 8).
Eick, Justin. “The Life of William Shakespeare.” Theatrical Education Group (2007).
Hinton, Peter. “William Shakespear: An Overview of his Life, Times, and Work.” The National Arts Center English Theatre (2008).
Janson, Ben. “William Shakespeare.” 1996. http://www.agdc.ac.in/pdf/resource/william_shakespeare.pdf.
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