The Life and Times of William
“It is virtually not assimilable to our reason that a small lonely man felled a giant in
the midst of his limousines, his legions, and his security. If such a non-entity
destroyed the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, then a world of
disproportion engulfs us, and we live in a universe that is absurd.”
• Shakespeare was born April 23rd, 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon (Estimation based
upon his baptism on the 26th) Historians chose the 23rd….mainly because he died
on April 23rd, 1616.
– 9% of Newborns died within a week of birth .
– 11% died before they were a month old.
– Average lifespan of an adult male was 47 years old.
• Was educated at The King’s New School in Stratford. Provided an intense
education in grammar based upon Latin classical authors (No paper trail of his
admittance, but it’s assumed)
• He would have had access to Drama classes—very popular in culture.
approx. 102 miles from
Adulthood and Marriage
• At 18 years of age, William Shakespeare married 26 year-old, Anne Hathaway.
• They welcomed their first daughter, Susanna, six months after their marriage.
• Two years later, the couple had twins: Hamnet and Judith.
– Hamnet died in 1596 at age 11 of unknown causes.
– All three of Judith’s grandchildren passed away.
– Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth (Daughter of Susanna) died childless in 1670.
– This leaves Shakespeare with no living descendants.
And this takes us to Shakespeare’s Lost Years….
The Lost Years
• Here’s what we know:
– Hamnet and Judith were born in 1585
– By 1592, William Shakespeare was a well-known and well-established actor/playwright in London
Let’s read that again…1585---Shakespeare is married with three children….1592---Shakespeare has
already carved a space for himself throughout the local London Theatre Community.
Some theories included that Shakespeare spent these years as a law
clerk, sailor, soldier, schoolmaster, traveling actor, or a glover like his father.
• While it can’t be explained how Shakespeare swept the theatre scene, it is
substantiated by history that he did.
– 1594: Shakespeare’s plays were performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men
(Owned by the players, including Shakespeare)
– After Queen Elizabeth died, the company was awarded a royal patent and
became The King’s Men.
– And finally in 1599, Shakespeare and fellow company members built their own
– Shakespeare became a very rich man, buying the second largest house in
• “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear, to dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the
man that spares these stones, and cursed be he that moves my bones.”
– Shakespeare died on April 23rd, 1616. We don’t exactly know how…some historians attribute his
death to overdrinking.
– Scholars believe he wrote twenty other plays that have been lost without a trace.
– Shakespeare wrote a total of 37 plays and 154 sonnets.
– Let’s talk about the sonnets: The sonnets are praised as a profound meditation on the nature of
love, passion, procreation, death and time. There is no proof as to who (if anyone) they were written
for. It’s speculated that they are somewhat autobiographical, and possible telling of homosexual
– Oddly enough, a 1609 edition of the sonnets was dedicated to a “Mr. W.H.” as “the only begetter” of
the poems.” We don’t know why this was written, who “Mr. W.H.” was, or if Shakespeare authorized
• There can be no doubt that Shakespeare’s enduring cultural resonance is, although
mysterious, justified. If a man’s life-meaning is his legacy, then Shakespeare is truly
defined by his work---his writing is the most we know about him.
• His name brings over Fifty-Million Google results.
• On IMDB, he has just under One Thousand credits as “writer.” There are currently
15 projects in production adapting his work in some way.