How The Great Bard Was Born The English Renaissance and William Shakespeare
“He was not of an age, but for all time” Ben Johnson on William Shakespeare
The most famous writer in history was just as influenced by the culture he was born into as he influences modern culture. In learning about his life and reading his works, we learn about ourselves and about human nature. It is no mistake that every high school student in this country studies Shakespeare. He is quite simply the best and you are about to experience the power of his writings. William Shakespeare circa 1609
Fathered two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth) and one son (Edward)
Was Catholic, Protestant, Catholic, Protestant . . . .
Prince Edward The sole male heir to Henry’s throne He was Protestant and upheld this faith in the country once in power Was ill and died shortly after gaining the throne Left behind no heir (too young to do so)
King James I Was Queen Elizabeth’s Godson, inherited her throne. Patron of theater—Shakespeare’s King’s Men were his favorite acting troupe. Solidified the Protestant faith with the creation of the King James Bible
What does this have to do with Shakespeare????
Brief Biography of William Shakespeare April 23, 1564-April 23, 1616
He was baptized on April 26, 1564 There were no such things as birth certificates at this time. However, babies were usually baptized three days after their birth—hence Shakespeare’s birth date of April 23, 1564 He was married at the age of 18 to 26 year old Anne Hathaway (she was pregnant) He fathered three children (two girls, one boy) His son died young He was part owner of the Globe Theater He died on April 23, 1616 The Five Provable Facts About Shakespeare
Everything else that is “known” about the world’s greatest writer is speculation, best guesses, and agreed upon facts. Due to the lack of actual evidence of Shakespeare’s life, many people have questioned whether he really existed or not. The collection of works credited to him are all too similar to be the works of more than one person. Others argue that Shakespeare could not have been smart enough to write such important literature. Pure genius is often misunderstood It is a Mystery . . .
Educated Guesses On The Rest of Shakespeare’s Biography
William Shakespeare was one of seven children born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden
There is no evidence of further education beyond this
By the early 1590’s Shakespeare had left his wife and three children in Stratford-upon-Avon and traveled over 100 miles away to London to pursue his acting and writing career. He lived there for most of his adult life.
His marriage was not great—he rarely went home to visit his wife and upon his death, he willed Anne his SECOND-BEST bed. Everything else went to his daughters.
He became VERY wealthy in his life time which afforded him the chance to buy his family’s coat of arms (a sign of nobility) and the largest estate in Stratford.
His patrons included Sir Henry Wriothesley and King James I
Wrote 37 plays
Wrote comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances (not what you think)
Also wrote 154 sonnets and several narrative poems all dedicated to Sir Henry Wriothesley
He was an actor, writer, director, and business man
Became known for his imaginative use of language and timelessness
Effects of the Monarchy
Shakespeare had to adjust his writings based on who was in power in England.
Under Elizabeth—women were portrayed as strong, Catholicism was mocked, marriage was not made to be the ultimate goal for characters
Under James—the practice of courtiership was mocked and Shakespeare was freer to fully develop his characters
Midsummer Night’s Dream “The course of true love never did run smooth”
Look for messages about LOVE and the nature of love
Determine whether or not this play is appropriate for a wedding celebration.
“If we shadows have offended,Think of this and all is mended:That you have but slumbered hereWhile these visions did appear.And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding than a dream,” Wait until you see how it unfolds!