William Davenant, Son of Shakespeare?

937 Words4 Pages
The Renaissance Era produced many great legends whose legacies left an impact on our society today. William Davenant was one of the important figures whose achievements helped to restore English literature. Those who are well versed in theater have long debated who William Davenant was and why he was important. William Davenant was rumored to be Shakespeare’s son, was crucial to the Restoration, and was a famous English poet and playwright who changed the scope of literature.
Born in Oxford, England in February of 1606, William Davenant’s life was interesting from the moment of his birth. His mother was Jane Shepherd Davenant, but the identity of his true father was largely disputed (“Davenant, William” 73). Was his father John Davenant, husband to Jane, owner of the town tavern, and mayor of Oxford, or William Shakespeare, the well-known writer? John and Jane raised William Davenant together, but some people suspect that Shakespeare was actually his father. When Shakespeare was in town, he often lodged at the Crown Tavern, the inn owned by the Davenant’s, and it was thought that Jane and Shakespeare engaged in an affair (“Davenant, William” 73). The coincidence between this and the belief that Shakespeare was Davenant’s godfather lead many to believe that the roles between John Davenant and William Shakespeare should have been reversed. Not unlike today, gossip was almost always believed by those who love a scandal. It was whispered throughout England that Shakespeare had an illegitimate son (“Sir William Davenant”).
Despite all of this controversy, William Davenant lived a fairly normally life. He embraced his past when he later incorporated Shakespeare into his life. While he studied at Saint Paul’s Parish in Oxford, D...

... middle of paper ...

...onary theater productions. From his sacrifices in the English Civil War to his creation of the first opera, Davenant was often upstaged by his potential relation to Shakespeare. When thinking of the most profound writers of the Renaissance era, do not forget the man who saved it from disappearing after Oliver Cromwell’s reign. Montague Summers put it best when he said “The services of Sir William Davenant to the English theatre it would be difficult to overestimate” (2).

Works Cited
“Davenant, William.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. Ed. James Craddock. 2nd ed. Vol. 31. Detroit: Gale, 2012. 73-76. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 09 Apr. 2014.
“Sir William Davenant.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2014
Summers, Montague. The Playhouse of Pepys. New York: Humanities Press, 1964. Print.

More about William Davenant, Son of Shakespeare?

Open Document