Interesting Facts About Shakespeare: The Greatest English Writer Of All Time

Shakespeare

Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet, and actor widely considered to be the greatest English writer of all time. William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26th, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England to John Shakespeare, and alderman and glover, and Mary Arden. William had three younger brothers Gilbert, Richard, and Edmund, and two older sisters Joan and Judith.
It is believed that William Shakespeare attended King’s New School in Stratford. William married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway when he was 18. It is known for sure when William began to write, but by 1592 his plays were on the London stage.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories, which are regarded as some of the best work ever produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances and collaborated with other playwrights.
Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. However, in 1623 John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published a more definitive text known as the First Folio, a posthumous collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognized as Shakespeare’s. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as “not of an age, but for all time”.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, his works have repeatedly been adapted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
Shakespeare lived through one of the most turbulent yet thrilling eras of English history – a period of plague, riots and political and religious tensions – and went on to become one of history’s most famous playwrights.
Here are FIVE amazing and interesting facts about Shakespeare:
1. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did between 1585 and 1592. To the dismay of his biographers, Shakespeare disappears from the historical record between 1585, when his twins’ baptism was recorded, and 1592, when the playwright Robert Greene denounced him in a pamphlet as an “upstart crow.” The insult suggests he’d already made a name for himself on the London stage by then.
What did the newly married father and future literary icon do during those seven “lost” years? Historians have speculated that he worked as a schoolteacher, studied law, traveled across continental Europe or joined an acting troupe that was passing through Stratford. According to one 17th-century account, he fled his hometown after poaching deer from a local politician’s estate.
2. Shakespeare’s father held a lot of different jobs, and at one point got paid to drink beer. The son of a tenant farmer, John Shakespeare was nothing if not upwardly mobile. He arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1551 and began dabbling in various trades, selling leather goods, wool, malt and corn.
In 1556 he was appointed the borough’s official “ale taster,” meaning he was responsible for inspecting bread and malt liquors. The next year he took another big step up the social ladder by marrying Mary Arden, the daughter of an aristocratic farmer who happened to be his father’s former boss. John later became a moneylender and held a series of municipal positions, serving for some time as the mayor of Stratford. In the 1570s he fell into debt and ran into legal problems for reasons that remain unclear.
3. Shakespeare died in 1616, but the first volume of his plays, First Folio, was not published until seven years after his death. His associates, Henry Condell and John Heminges, ensured his words became part of literary history, as the folio includes 26 of 28 plays that are attributed to the bard.
4. William Shakespeare is often called an Elizabethan playwright, despite the large majority of his greatest works were produced after James I took the throne. So he should more accurately be known as a Jacobean playwright.
5. Shakespeare’s first plays were written in the conventional style of the day. He wrote them in a stylised language that does not always spring naturally from the needs of the characters or the drama. The poetry depends on extended, sometimes elaborate metaphors and conceits, and the language is often rhetorical—written for actors to declaim rather than speak.

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