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English 9 Mrs. Fritz Who was Shakespeare? Some say that he didn’t exist. He didn’t leave any journal, and we have no proof that any of his surviving portraits are authentic. However, the story of his life has been preserved in court documents and official records. So let’s get to know this guy and his writing. Then we’ll decide whether he really was THE BARD. “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages." --From As You Like It (II, vii, 139-143) Navigating through the Lesson This button takes you to the next slide. This button takes you back to the last slide. This button takes you back to the Main Menu. This button takes you back to the Title Screen. Main Menu Shakespeare’s Shakespeare in Shakespeare’s Early Life London Later Life Shakespeare’s Shakespeare’s Plays Authenticity Quiz ? The Bard is Born We are not sure of the exact date of Shakespeare’s birth. However, we do know that he was baptized on April 26, 1564. His parents’ names were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. His father was a merchant and glover, and his mother was a member of the landed gentry. Tour Shakespeare’s Shakespeare may have Stratford been born here at this house on Henley Street in Stratford. The Bard Goes to School Shakespeare refers to mythology and classical literature, so we know that he had a good education. We do not have his school records, since they have been lost or may not have been kept. Shakespeare probably went to the local Grammar School in Stratford. There he would have studied grammar, logic, rhetoric, Latin, and literature. It seems that he dropped out of school at age 15 to help provide for his family. What was it like to go to school in the This shows the interior of Renaissance? the Grammar School in Stratford. The Bard gets Married At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years his senior. Some have argued that Shakespeare, the playwright, never married Anne since the records badly misspell his name. However, Shakespeare did leave things to his wife in his will. Since Shakespeare spent most of his life away from Anne, it is argued that they did not have a happy marriage. Find out more about Anne Hathaway’s This is a drawing of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Childhood home. The Bard Has Kids Shakespeare had three children. His eldest child was named Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. He also had twins, Hamnet and Judith. They were born on February 2, 1585. Sadly, while Shakespeare was in London, Hamnet died at age 11. This is a Horn What was it Book with letters like to be a kid printed on it. in Elizabethan This was how children learned Times? their alphabet at this time. The Bard’s Dark Years There are several years of Shakespeare's life for which we have no records. After Shakespeare’s marriage, we lose track of him for a few years. From 1585 to 1592, it is believed that Shakespeare started acting and working on his plays. However, we are not sure. This shows a dramatic scene preformed by a traveling troupe in a courtyard. You are at the end of “Shakespeare’s Early Life.” Return to the Main Menu for more options. The Bard goes to London Shakespeare’s name first appears in connection to the London theatre in 1572. Was he recruited in his hometown by a traveling acting troupe? Or did he travel to London to make a name for himself? Again, we don’t know. This is how Tour the London London would have of Shakespeare’s looked in the Time year of 1616. The Bard becomes a Bard Shakespeare probably began writing plays between 1592 and 1595. His first comedies may have been Love’s Labour’s Lost and Comedy of Errors. Romeo and Juliet was written probably in 1595 or 1596. It was probably one of his first tragedies. Early plays included Richard III and the Henry VI trilogy. This is a painting A Chronology of of Romeo Shakespeare’s and Juliet. Plays The Bard and The Chamberlain’s Men Although we have no evidence, it is believed that Shakespeare originally belonged to Pembroke’s Men, since many of his early plays were performed by this company. In 1594, Shakespeare had joined The Chamberlain’s Men. He wrote many plays during this time period. The patron of the company was Lord Hudson, the Queen’s Chamberlain. Queen Elizabeth I was never an official patron of Shakespeare’s companies. However, we know that Shakespeare’s companies performed frequently before her. When Elizabeth died in 1603, King James granted The Chamberlain Men a patent to perform, and they renamed themselves The King’s Men to honor him. Elizabeth I defined and Learn More dominated the English About culture and society of Shakespeare’s day Elizabeth I The Bard and The Plague When the theatres were closed in 1592 because of an outbreak of plague, Shakespeare turned to writing his non-dramatic poetry. The Earl of Southampton became his patron. Venus and Adonis was published in 1593. He began composing his sonnets in 1592 or 1593. He wrote over 154 sonnets. During this time, he may also have traveled with a troupe of actors outside the city limits. Several plagues struck England during Elizabeth’s reign. Learn more about The Plague The Bard and The Globe Theatre In 1599, Shakespeare and his fellow actors leased land for the Globe Theatre, which they built a year later. The building was open at the top, and had three seating levels, plus space in front of the stage for people to stand. The Globe burned down in 1608, and was rebuilt on the other side of The Thames. Take a Virtual Tour of the Globe Theatre This is a picture of the stage of the reconstructed Globe as it looks today. The Bard’s Fellow Actors William Kempe was a actor, who frequently played the clown in Shakespeare’s plays. He played Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Peter in Romeo and Juliet, and probably Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He liked to improvise, and this made Shakespeare angry. Richard Burbage was an actor from the age of 20. He played many of the great Shakespearean roles, including Lear, Hamlet, Richard III, and Othello. He was a member of The Chamberlain's Men and remained in the group when it became The King’s Men. You are at the end of “Shakespeare in London.” Return to the Main Menu. The Bard Retires In 1597, Shakespeare bought New Place in Stratford. His last appearance on the stage was in 1603. It appears that he retired permanently to Stratford in 1610. Although he had been gone for 20 years, he still had family and business interests in Stratford. Shakespeare as a co- owner of The Globe continued to receive money from the This is how New theatre. He also probably Place may have visited London to see further looked. productions of his plays, namely The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, and Macbeth. The Bard Dies At age 52, Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616. He was buried in the chancel of Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church. You are at the end of “Shakespeare’s These words are written on Later Life.” Please Shakespeare’s Tomb Stone: return to the Main Menu. Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones. The Play is the Thing Many of the scripts of acting companies had dual or multiple authorship. Sometimes actors added lines as they were on the stage. Manuscripts did not belong to the author, but to the acting company. Plagiarism was not viewed negatively in Elizabethan times. Many writer’s borrowed from other writers of the past. For example, Shakespeare often used material from Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland for his history plays. The Globe as it looks today. How the Plays Survived After his death, Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays. Eighteen of these had never been published before. However, the rest had already appeared in quartos. Some of these previous quartos had contained many mistakes. The First Folio probably used these quartos. However, the First Folio also had many corrections based on some original manuscripts or prompt books. The title page of the First Folio Folios and Quartos The word folio means that the book is made from a sheet of paper folded once to make two leaves or four pages. The word quarto refers to a book made from a sheet of paper folded twice to make four leaves or eight pages. Comedy and Tragedy Shakespeare’s plays are often divided into three categories: tragedy, comedy, and history plays. What is the difference between Tragedy and Comedy? Tragedy involves a hero who falls from a great position. This could be because he has a fatal flaw, fortune is against him, or both. Tragedies are profoundly sad and are meant to provoke Shakespeare Nursed by our sympathies. Shakespeare’s tragedies often Tragedy and Comedy end in death. Painting by George Romney and engraved by Benjamin In comedy, we are meant to see ourselves and Smith our society in a new way and hopefully learn something through laughter. The characters often are in disguise, and things are not as they appear. Comedies often have a happy ending, such as a marriage. Shakespeare and Words When Shakespeare couldn’t think of a word that was appropriate for his meaning, he made one up. Some claim that he invented up to 2000 words. We use many of these words everyday. Take a look at these: lonely addiction bedroom mimic hint bump torture label secure summit champion Shakespeare’s This is the end of notebook page “Shakespeare’s Plays.” Return to the Main Menu. The Shakespeare Identity Debate We do not have any of Shakespeare’s plays in his own handwriting. Many discredit his authorship. Some say that the records, including Shakespeare’s marriage certificate, are questionable. Was The Bard really the William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon? Some have argued that Shakespeare of Stratford could not have had the education and intelligence to write the plays. Some have suggested that the real author was a member of Queen Elizabeth’s court, Sir Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford. What do you think? The class system in England was still very strong during the Elizabethan era and remained so. The Royal Shakespeare Company has suggested that class snobbery was a major motive for various scholars discrediting Shakespeare. They didn’t want their nation’s greatest playwright to come from such humble beginnings. So they claimed that his plays were really written by a noble-man. Others perhaps fuel the debate because they like the mystery and intrigue of the story. Or they enjoy sleuthing out the clues to find the “real” author to the magnificent plays. This is the end of “Shakespeare’s Authenticity.” It’s time to take The Quiz. Test your Knowledge!! 1. Shakespeare was born on what date: a. April 23, 1616 b. April 26, 1564 c. May 26, 1583 d. We don’t know. Sorry! Try Again. Remember, much of my life is unknown to you. You have to depend on court and clerical records for most of the details. Fantastic! You didn’t get confused. We do know Shakespeare’s death date: April 23, 1616 We also know that he was baptized on: April 26, 1564 His eldest daughter Susanna was born on: May 26, 1583 But we just don’t know the exact date of Shakespeare’s birth. Since some couldn’t accept the fact that the Bard had no birthday, they adopted his death date, April 23, as his birth date. On to the next tricky detail! 2. Shakespeare was a member of what group of actors: a. The Queen’s Men b. The Chamber Men c. Pembroke’s Men d. There is no evidence that Shakespeare belonged to an acting company. Wrong! Remember, many acting companies were named after the patron of the company. Fabulous! You weren’t going to be stumped! The Queen’s Men did not exist. Although Queen Elizabeth enjoyed plays put on by Shakespeare’s company, she was never their patron. The Chamber Men did exist, but they weren’t an acting company. The correct name of Shakespeare’s company was The Chamberlain Men. Many believe that Shakespeare was a member of Pembroke’s Men, whose patron was the Earl of Pembroke. Many of Shakespeare’s early plays were performed by this company. We do have evidence that Shakespeare was a member of The Chamberlain Men and The King’s Men. Can you tackle this Question? 3. Shakespeare’s plays were first published in what form: a. Folio b. Quarto c. Prompt Book d. Pamphlet Come on! Remember, for a book to be published it has to be read by the public. What form would be a cheap way to distribute the plays? Remember, the plays are quite long. Wow! That was one tough question! Shakespeare’s friends did publish his plays in what is called The First Folio. However, eighteen of these plays had already been published in Quarto editions. Some of these were not very accurate though. The Prompt Book was the copy of the play used by the actors in the theatre, and so no one else ever read it. People were just beginning to write pamphlets during the Renaissance, but they were not a good way to publish lengthy literature. This is the Last Question! What is NOT an issue in the Shakespeare identity debate: a. Shakespeare’s marriage certificate is inaccurate. b. Shakespeare’s name never appears in connection with the London theatres. c. There are no school records surviving for Shakespeare. d. Some of Shakespeare’s plays were plagiarized from other sources. False! Think carefully. What do you know for sure about me? What do you not know? Terrific! You did it! In answering this tough question you remembered: …that Shakespeare of Stratford, the one who supposedly married Anne Hathaway, is doubted to be The Bard. …that Shakespeare’s name is indeed mentioned in the London theater scene, so we know he was an actor and contributed to the company’s scripts. …that, in fact, we have no school records for Shakespeare, which actually isn’t significant to the debate, since records at his school may actually never have been kept. …the fact that Shakespeare plagiarized a little is not to doubt his identity, since many writers borrowed from others at this time. You are done the tutorial. Click here to go to the final screen. Alas, Shakespeare is dead, but his plays live on. “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Excerpt from Macbeth Click on the icon to go back to Title Screen. Thank You.
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