Meet William Shakespeare

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Meet William Shakespeare

  1. 1. Meet William Shakespeare The man, the myth, the legend
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>About 400 years ago, a small town actor and writer made it “big” in the theaters of London. His plays were popular, and he earned his share of fame and fortune. He and his colleagues never suspected though, that he would gain immortality as one of the greatest masters of English literature. After all, he wasn’t writing literature, just popular entertainment. William Shakespeare was simply doing his job as an actor, director, writer and a partner in a successful acting company. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why are we reading this? <ul><li>It turns out that Shakespeare was good at his job. He was so good that he changed the face of drama, and over 400 years later, we still consider his plays to be among the best ever written. Shakespeare is the most studied playwright in history. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Shakespeare, the man <ul><li>William Shakespeare is one of the most famous men who ever lived. Yet much of his life is a mystery to us. We do not even know exactly when he was born; only the date of his baptism was registered. We know very little about his parents, his wife and his children. Besides his plays and poems, the only documentation we have of his life are business transactions, court papers, and his will. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Early Years <ul><li>William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, England, in 1564, the third of eight children. His parents were John Shakespeare, a glove maker and his mother was Mary Arden, the daughter of a farmer. John Shakespeare was a respected man, and he held several positions in local government. </li></ul><ul><li>Beginning at the age of about seven, young William probably attended the Stratford Grammar School with other boys of his social class. It was a good school for its day and it was free, though only boys could go. The school’s highly qualified teachers were graduates of Oxford University. Students spent about nine hours a day in classes. They attended school year round, except for three brief holiday periods. The teachers enforced strict discipline and physically punished students who broke the rules. The students mainly studied Latin and Greek. They memorized long passages of poetry in those languages. William had an amazing memory, and years later he frequently referred to the myths and histories, that he learned in his childhood in many of his literary works. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Early years continued <ul><li>In spite of the long hours he spent in school, Shakespeare's boyhood was probably not at all boring. As a market center, Stratford was a lively town. Holidays provided popular shows and plays (traveling companies of professional actors performed in Stratford. </li></ul><ul><li>William graduated from Stratford Grammar School when he was sixteen. By then, the Shakespeare family had fallen on hard times. John Shakespeare owed a substantial amount of money to several people, and he could not afford to pay his taxes. He was no longer a town leader and at one point didn’t even go to church for fear of being arrested for debt! Obviously, there was no money for a university education for William. </li></ul><ul><li>William Shakespeare went to work, but we do not know what he did. He might have helped his father make gloves, though many speculate that he was a schoolmaster’s assistant and others believe he worked for a lawyer. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Love and Marriage? <ul><li>When William Shakespeare was eighteen years old, he married Anne Hathaway, who was twenty six. John and Mary were against the marriage. First of all, the family was short on money. Also, their house must have been crowded and noisy enough already, for William had three brothers and two sisters, and the youngest of them was only three years old. Even so, William brought his new wife to live with them. When their daughter Susanna was born, there were ten people living in the house. Less than two year later, there were twelve, when Anne gave birth to twins, Hamnet and Judith. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Love and Marriage? Continued <ul><li>Some time after the birth of the twins, William left Stratford and went to London, no one knows when he left or under what circumstances. Anne, Susanna, and the twins stayed behind in Stratford. We assume that William sent money to support them and came home to visit. He never took them to London to live with him and he and Anne had no more children. It does not appear that Anne and William had the most loving marriage. </li></ul>
  9. 9. London Calling <ul><li>Around the year 1590, Shakespeare arrived in London. There he joined one of the city’s acting companies. In 1590, he joined the Lord Chamberlin’s men, which became one of the most popular acting companies in London. The group performed their productions at the Globe Theater. In addition to acting, William wrote about two plays a year for his company to perform. </li></ul>
  10. 10. What kind of writer was Shakespeare? <ul><li>Most of the plots of Shakespeare's plays were not original. He found his ideas in storybooks and in the pages of history. He breathed new life into the main characters, added new ones and changed the plots as him imagination prompted him. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Golden Years <ul><li>When Shakespeare was about forty seven, he left his busy life in London and retired to Stratford. There he lived the life of a country gentleman in a grand home called, New Place. </li></ul><ul><li>Though his son Hamnet had died, his daughters Susanna and Judith married and gave William several grandchildren. He and Anne seemed to have live together quietly, if not lovingly, after so many years apart. </li></ul>
  12. 12. This is the end… <ul><li>In March 1614, Shakespeare made his will. He left money to the poor Stratford and his friends. To his sisters and his daughters, he gave his land, houses and belongings. Oddly, to his wife Anne he only left his second-best bed! Historians have never quite known what to make of that. </li></ul><ul><li>He died on April 23, 1616. Though we do not know the exact date of his birth it is quite possible he died on his fifty second birthday. </li></ul>

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