William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - famous English poet and playwright. He is considered the greatest English-speaking writer, a national treasure. Shakespeare's creative legacy consists of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 4 poems and 3 more epitaphs. The playwright's works have been translated into all major languages of the world; they are most often staged in the theater.
The most interesting thing is that not much is known about Shakespeare's life. Historians often consider colorful stories about him to be fiction. Once in London, William first stood guard at the horse theater, then became an assistant there, replacing the prompter and rewriting the roles. Over time, Shakespeare began to be trusted to perform on stage. I must say that William never became a famous actor, but he began to write plays. In 1595, Shakespeare became a co-owner of the Lord Chamberlain Troupe, and four years later became a co-owner of the Globe Theater.
But the official biography of the playwright is completely inconsistent with his work. Today we are still captivated by numerous myths about this amazing man, wondering who he really was.
Shakespeare was an educated man. Given the deep creative legacy of the playwright, it is logical to assume that he was a well-educated person. In those days, universities were available only to the most elite, Shakespeare was not among them. It is believed that the playwright studied at the Stratford grammar school, where he studied Latin, that he went to the school of King Edward VI, studying the works of ancient poets there. But no documents about Shakespeare's stay in these institutions have survived. There were no memories of those who studied with him.
Shakespeare would be uneducated. In 1920, John Looney published an article attributing the authorship of Shakespeare's works to the Earl of Oxford. This educated aristocrat was more likely to create plays than the son of a craftsman. In fact, public education at that time, although not encompassing science, was of a high standard. The peculiarity of society was the ability of the middle class, which could even engage in international trade. Stratford was not London, but Shakespeare's father was one of the most respected people in his city. His family had ample opportunity to educate William. In those days, the middle class and the nobility received a basic education, which implied the study of Latin and Greek. Scientists have found references to more than a hundred books in Shakespeare's works, which speaks of the playwright's powerful inquisitive mind. He studied actively throughout his life.
Shakespeare was a writer. Shakespeare is presented as a writer working hard on his works. But this was not his only profession. In fact, he was an actor. Shakespeare has performed in theater companies such as the Lord Chamberlain's Men's Theater. It is believed that it was William who played the ghost in Hamlet, as well as King Duncan in Macbeth. At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, Shakespeare began to make a name for himself in London at the expense of his works, but in Stratford he was known as a successful businessman. He made a considerable fortune by buying and selling grain, issuing loans. Shakespeare was even prosecuted for tax evasion, and in 1598 he was also fined for speculating in grain during a famine.
Shakespeare died the same day he was born. It is generally believed that the playwright was born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, and died on April 23, 1616. But the exact date of birth is still unknown. Historians only know that Shakespeare was baptized on April 26th. In England, April 23 is considered the day of St. George, the patron saint of England. Perhaps biographers later could timed the birth of William to this important holiday. In 1582, the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian, and the date was shifted. So we can reasonably assume that Shakespeare was actually born on May 1.
All of Shakespeare's plays have been released. The work of the playwright is considered well studied, all of his works have been published. But there is at least one play unknown to the general public. The Cardeño Story has long been considered lost, but in 2010 a surviving copy was found.
Shakespeare's Globe Theater has survived to this day. The first theater created by actors for actors was the Globe in Southwark. The building is believed to have survived in its original form. However, the original structure burned down in 1613 during the speech of King Henry VIII. A spark ignited the thatched roof. Although the theater building was rebuilt the following year, in 1640 it was demolished again under pressure from the Puritans. Only in 1997, the "Globus" underwent reconstruction, receiving tourists today. The new building has complied with all safety rules and can accommodate up to 1,500 spectators. But there is a modern "Globus" 200 meters from the original place.
Shakespeare is an Elizabeth-era playwright. It is with the name of Queen Elizabeth that Shakespeare's work is associated. But the heyday of his work fell on the reign of King James I. During these years, the playwright gradually began to move away from romantic comedies towards dramatic satire. Under Jacob, 14 important works of Shakespeare saw the light: Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Winter's Tale, The Tempest and others.
Shakespeare worked alone. The names of co-authors are not perceived next to Shakespeare's name. Meanwhile, he collaborated with many other playwrights, this was the norm for that time. George Wilkins, for example, is credited with the first half of Pericles. The “Two Noble Kinsmen” from the First Folio is also considered a collaborative work. The 1634 edition contains the names of Shakespeare and John Fletcher on the title page. Literary scholars find in the works of Shakespeare many traces of other authors of the same period. This applies to Macbeth, All is well that ends well, Titus Andronicus and others.
Shakespeare was an exemplary family man. One of the few things we know for sure about Shakespeare is his family. He had a wife, Anne, and three children. After the death of his son Hemnet at the age of 11, the playwright estranged himself from his family. He moved to London and no letters of his to his wife remained. In his will, Shakespeare briefly mentions his wife, although she got a third of the will. Most of the property went to the eldest daughter Susan. And the will to his wife "the second-best bed" still causes different interpretations.
The descendants of Shakespeare have survived. William's heir, son Hemnet, died as a child. The children of Susan's eldest daughter were to receive Shakespeare's inheritance. But her daughter, Elizabeth, William's granddaughter, died childless in 1670. In two of her marriages, children never appeared. Another Shakespeare's daughter, Judith, married after the death of her father to the winemaker Thomas Queenie. In this marriage, three children appeared, but they died without marrying. Thus the playwright's hereditary line was interrupted.
Shakespeare was a literate person. The playwright is credited with creating over three thousand new words of the English language. He is easily considered a spelling genius. In fact, there are many grammatical errors in his works. For example, instead of "silence" he wrote "scilens". Even the playwright wrote his name with mistakes, being that "Shappere", then "Shaxberd", then "Shakspere" or "Shakespere".
Shakespeare was heterosexual. Although the writer had a wife and two children, it is likely that he was a homosexual. Many sonnets celebrate love for a man, not a woman. In one of his works, the author lovingly calls the hero "a beautiful young man." Many researchers believe that the Earl of Southampton was hiding under this image. Shakespeare collaborated a lot with him, although he became famous for his sexual relations with men. The playwright dedicated his sonnets to a certain W.H. Under this pseudonym could be hiding such handsome men as Henry Risley, Earl of Southampton, or William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. In sonnet 20, Shakespeare openly calls the object of his passion, the man, "the king and queen of my heart." The author encourages the man to keep his emotional feelings to himself. It is also surprising that in the canonical works of Shakespeare there are many scenes of people dressing up in clothes of the opposite sex.
Shakespeare's works were published during his lifetime. During Shakespeare's time, playwrights sold their work to acting troupes. After purchasing the play, the actors did not make any copies of it. Otherwise, competitors could have made the same production. Making copies was considered insane. Shakespeare's complete works might not have survived to this day, if not for the actors John Heminges and Henry Condell. After the death of the playwright, they collected a collection of his 36 plays "Mr. Shakespeare's Comedy, Chronicle and Tragedy". Only 40 copies of the first edition of 1623 have come down to us; such a book costs from 8 million dollars. The first edition was later supplemented with only two new plays.
Shakespeare's personality is well known. Numerous art critics write about Shakespeare, his life and work have been studied up and down. They know more about him than about modern writers. In fact, Shakespeare's personality is extremely mysterious. There are no his personal diaries, notes, memories of his friends. Scholars have found many references to Shakespeare in the surviving documents. These are mainly legal documents. The writer was involved in legal disputes, signed lease agreements, bought real estate, left a will. But that says nothing about the personality of Shakespeare himself. This side of his life remains mysterious.
Shakespeare was not the author of his plays. This myth is almost the most popular about the personality of the author. Among the likely authors are usually named Francis Bacon, Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley, Roger Menners and even Queen Elizabeth herself. But for some reason, no one disputes the authorship of Chaucer and his "Canterbury Tales" or Edgar Wallace and his hundreds of thrillers. Making drama in Elizabeth's time was a real business. The author had to rewrite his work, constantly change it, adapt it, collaborate with the actors, take into account competing analogues, try to make the product viable. As a result, the names of the authors of the works of that era have practically not survived, with the exception of Shakespeare and Johnson. Their work came out in a separate collection, which was unusual for that time. In Shakespeare's time, both Bacon and Oxford worked. But their plays were different. Shakespeare took the story from one source, added material from another, and took into account the capabilities of his actors. The material was refined during rehearsals and performances. The plays were censored by the government, which often required the removal of controversial material. The published versions were what the actors could remember. Shakespeare was appreciated by many contemporaries, not only by his patron, the Earl of Southampton. Theater experts paid tribute to the talented playwright in their memoirs. Shakespeare was one of the most respected writers of his time. That is why his colleagues decided to collect all his works and publish a book with them. The project could even lead to financial troubles, because competitors could copy the plays. For those who personally knew Shakespeare, his death was the end of an era. If the works were really created by Oxford or Bacon, why was Shakespeare so respected? In 2010, the works of the playwright and the most likely candidates for authorship were subjected to computer analysis. It turned out that all the texts were created by one person, different from the alleged candidates. So the question of Shakespeare's authorship can be considered closed.
Shakespeare is the greatest English playwright. Today, this point of view is generally accepted, but this was not always the case. During his lifetime, Shakespeare had a reputation as only a good playwright and poet, one of many in the Elizabethan era. He managed to find influential friends, to win success with the public. In the first century and a half after his death, the playwright was not considered a great writer. In the theaters of the Restoration era, plays by Fletcher and Beaumont were more popular, Ben Johnson and Shakespeare were considered authors of a lower level. Truly national fame came to the playwright in 1769 after celebrating the Stratford Jubilee. And in those days, no one had any questions about who was the real author of Shakespeare's works. And only when they began to call him national pride and genius did such myths appear. Like any other writer, Shakespeare's work was not of the same quality. There are boring, mechanical, or meaningless passages in his plays. True, it is not clear whether this is the author's fault - the text was often restored. We do not always understand the slang of that era, references to events. And the humor of Shakespeare's time is different from ours. The text cannot be perceived as a sacred relic, it must be interpreted, like Chaucer. Theater is the art of the ephemeral. The Shakespeare who was appreciated by his contemporaries is gone forever.
Shakespeare's plots are original. As already mentioned, during Shakespeare's time, playwrights often borrowed plots from each other. In the case of Shakespeare, the case of "Hamlet" is indicative. This play is considered one of the best. Meanwhile, the plot was taken from an old Scandinavian story. In the third book of Acts of the Danes, the Danish chronicler Saxon Grammaticus told the legend of the Danish ruler Amletus. The main character tries to avenge the death of his father. Other researchers believe that the plot was borrowed from Thomas Kid from his "Spanish tragedy". Although the original version of the story remained little known, Shakespeare's account of it was the best.