William Shakespeare: Part I, His Life
Shakespeare is too big of a literary figure so he will be covered in a three-part series about his life his plays and his poetry.
The exact day of his birth is not known, but William Shakespeare was in April 1564 in the little town of Stratford, a community of about 2000 people. Stratford was a farming community where the trade of wool and mutton were king And Shakespeare’s father prospered as a yeoman with a lucrative side-hustle in the illegal, unlicensed trade of wool. Eventually, he was elected to be a city alderman with the responsibility of approving and licensing traveling theater groups to perform in his town, until, of course, he was caught and convicted. And that’s when his family began to decline in its economic fortunes.
Thusly, was Shakespeare introduced to the acting profession early in his life. However, actors were not highly regarded and held in high esteem in the Elizabethan times in which Shakespeare lived as they are today but were counted as being among “the masterless men” who did not have “real jobs” but were chronically unemployed. And there were no actresses in existence in those days since acting was considered beneath woman so it was the younger teenage boys who dressed up in drag and played the female parts.
Not much is known about Shakespeare’s life outside of public records and scholarly conjecture, but according to the records Shakespeare attended grammar school, as was the manner of English boys, and was a good student who learned to translate the Latin classics into English. However, not much is known about his teenage and young adult years, but legend has it that he was joining himself to various traveling acting troops and “paying his dues” so to speak and that he married his wife Anne Hathaway from whom he conceived three children in his lifetime. But eventually he emerged in a popular theater group called Lord Chamberlain’s Men, but eventually, their name was changed to the King’s Men when King James became their patron and an important source of their financial support. They gave their performances at the prestigious Globe Theater in London. Shakespeare was primarily for his company but also supported his company by writing his vast body of plays and poems on the side.
Shakespeare, or The Bard” as he is now known, did have his critics and was denounced by one of his critics as “an upstart cow…that supposes he is able to bombaste out a blanke verse as the best of you…in his own conceit.” In other words, he was being accused of being full of himself,
In his later years, he was part owner of his company but died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52 after a night out drinking ale with his friends, and it is thought that the cause of his death was a fever that he contracted from someone at the tavern.