William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare Ask anyone who Shakespeare was, and he or she will immediately rattle off at least three different plays that were required readings in English, not to mention a few blockbuster movies bearing his name. Many revere the works of Shakespeare as paramount in the world of literature, dedicating entire books, classes and festivals to the study and celebration of his work. Although the ancient language is a common stumbling block for even the most seasoned readers, his varied tales of love, hate, fear, betrayal, laughter, defeat and victory are just as fitting today as they were four hundred years ago. He is amazingly timeless. Yet, while we might know what Shakespeare is, will we ever really know who Shakespeare was? Ah, there’s the rub! Much about the Bard is a mystery to even the most scholarly enthusiasts. The hard facts that are actually known about him could fill one neatly handwritten page, but what is speculated and complete legend could fill volumes of books. So, what is fact and what is fiction? According to the little documentation that chronicles his life, Shakespeare was not even a true ‘Shakespeare’ at all; he was born in April 1596 and entered in the baptismal record as “Gulielmus filius Johannis Shakspere.” Even his actual date of birth is somewhat of a mystery. While we do know that he was baptized on April 26th, 1564, there is no existing record of his birth date. We can assume that he was born on April 23rd judging by the customary three-day period that most families waited before baptizing their children, but this is only speculation. Since the records of the Stratford grammar school have not survived, we cannot prove that Shakespeare attended school. In all actuality, we have no evidence that he was even literate. His father had no educational training, so it is quite possible that he also lacked in schooling, but that’s only guesswork. The next piece of hard information that we come across in our search is a register entry showing a Wm. Shaxpere being granted a license to marry Anne Whateley on November 27, 1582. The very next day this same register records a marriage bond issued to William Shagspere and Anne Hathwey. Six months later Anne gave birth to their first child, daughter Susanna Shakspere, and then in February 1585 she gave birth to twins, Hamnet and Judith. It is presumed that Shakespeare made it to London ar... ... middle of paper ... ...peare’s literature will probably never be laid to rest, it will always contribute to the enjoyment of studying his work. Students of the subject are compelled to read and re-read the plays and sonnets in an attempt to gain a better understanding of who was holding the pen. Debates involving fact and fiction keep the name Shakespeare in constant movement, reminding us that we have not outgrown him, not even after four hundred years. The writing of Shakespeare, whomever Shakespeare is, is a gift for us to continue unwrapping, and pass down to our children to appreciate as well. One must hope that the mystery will never be solved, so that it may never lose it’s magic. WORKS CITED Charters, Ann. The Story and Its Writer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 1999. Mowat, Barbara A. and Werstine, Paul, ed. A Midsummer Night’s Dream The New Folger Library. New York: Washington Square Press, 1993. Shakespeare Oxford Society. 27 Jun. 2001. <http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com> Van Duyn, Barbara. Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. 5 Aug. 2000. http://www.calvin.edu/academic/engl/346/proj/barb/ All Shakespeare. Allstudyguides.com. <http://www.allshakespeare.com/index.php>

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