The Life And Times Of William Shakespeare

  • Length: 1272 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Shakespeare is widely regarded as the world’s greatest playwright, and there’s no real reason to dispute that. People are still seeing his plays 400 years after he wrote them, not because it’s “trendy” or “hip,” but because they’re so good. His insight into the human spirit has never been equaled. This paper is a brief biography of Shakespeare and a discussion of the times in which he lived.
His life: It’s somewhat difficult to find factual information about Shakespeare, because the “first attempts at biographical research were not begun until over half a century after Shakespeare’s death” (Best, 2005). In addition, there were few biographies written of important persons at this time, especially dramatists, since plays were not considered “serious literature” (Best, 2005). In addition, the Puritans closed the theaters in 1642, and many manuscripts and other records were lost (Best, 2005). It also doesn’t help that there are numerous spellings of his name. Nevertheless, scholars have pieced together a fairly complete picture of his life, and where facts are not known, they have drawn reasonable inferences (Best, 2005). However, the fact remains that much of what we know is based on indirect information.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon some time in April, 1564, the son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden (Hanna - Life). Although there is no record of the exact date of his birth, there is a baptismal record at the church, so most scholars put his birthday as the 23rd of April, 1564 (Hanna - Life). John Shakespeare was a “prominent and prosperous alderman” in Stratford, and was “granted a coat of arms by the College of Heralds” (Hanna - Life). Little is known of Shakespeare’s boyhood but it is believed that he probably attended the “Stratford Grammar School” (Hanna - Life). There is no record of him having gone on to either Oxford or Cambridge, both of which were well established by his time (Hanna - Life).
Shakespeare’s name turns up next in 1582 when he marries Anne Hathaway, some eight years his senior (Hanna - Life). Their daughter Susanna was born in 1583 and twins, Judith and Hamnet, were born in 1585 (Hanna - Life). Once again Shakespeare disappears from the records and doesn’t turn up again for seven years, by which time he is “recognized as an actor, poet and playwright” (Hanna - Life). His recognition comes in the form of an insult from a rival, Robert Greene, who calls Shakespeare “an upstart crow” in his (Greene’s) play, A Groatsworth of Wit (Hanna - Life).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Life And Times Of William Shakespeare." 21 Jun 2018
Title Length Color Rating  
A Brief Look at the Life and Times of William Shakespeare Essay - William Shakespeare lived a fascinating life during which he built up a good influential reputation. Most of his life was focused on his playwriting and acting career and his writings continue to be prominent even in today's culture. People wonder about his journey to becoming a playwright and what inspired him. It intrigues people how a man with only a simple grammar school education was able to write beautiful pieces. He wrote various plays and poems and is considered to be one of the most renowned writers of all time....   [tags: Authors]
:: 9 Works Cited
2525 words
(7.2 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Essay - The opening scene of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet will be the scene that I choose to analysis. Elements of plots that could be found in the first scene are exposition, point of attack, discovery and foreshadowing. Each one of these elements will be used to help analysis the scene and make it clear as to what is going on in the mind of Shakespeare. The first element of plot found in the first scene is exposition. We read that there are two groups The Montague’s and The Capulets, and they seem to not like each other....   [tags: William Shakespeare]
:: 2 Works Cited
937 words
(2.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay - Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet “Follow her close, give her good watch, I pray you” (IV.5.73). Ostensibly, Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the riddling, enigmatic, inscrutable theatrical character par excellence. His motives, madness, conflicting morals and existential struggles are ambiguous to say the least. When analysing his character, Laertes and Fortinbras are often brought in as examples of less extreme characters dealing with similar but more tangible dilemmas. The idea that there may be someone who exceeds Hamlet in instability and incomprehensibility is unfathomable....   [tags: William shakespeare hamlet Essays] 2775 words
(7.9 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about The Works of William Shakespeare - The Works of William Shakespeare William Shakespeare is customary regarded to be the finest dramatist the world has ever seen and the greatest poet who has created his plays in the English language. Besides, Shakespeare has been the world’s most famous author. No other writer’s works have been published so many times or read so broadly in so many places. Shakespeare knew human nature as few other writers have. He could notice in a particular dramatic case the qualities that refer to all human beings....   [tags: William Shakespeare Writers Authors Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
1423 words
(4.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Analysis of Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Analysis of Hamlet by William Shakespeare The play begins on the outer ramparts of Elsinore castle. It is late and Francisco, a guard, is on duty waiting for Bernardo to relieve him from his watch. Francisco is nervous because the previous two nights he and Bernardo have seen a figure who appears to be the ghost of the recently deceased king wandering around. Bernardo approaches, accompanied by Horatio (Hamlet's only friend and confident). Even though Horatio dismisses the idea of a ghost, the guards start to retell the previous nights' encounters....   [tags: William Shakespeare Plays Hamlet Essays] 5818 words
(16.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Essay - William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet In Romeo and Juliet, love is depicted in several ways. Both Luhrman and Shakespeare represent love in different ways in different contexts to both the Elizabethan era and the contemporary audience. Both the original and later manifestations of the text are valued because they both communicate to the audience on the values of love and society by employing a variety of devices. The central subject dealt within Romeo and Juliet is the subject of love. William Shakespeare and Baz Luhrman thus represent love to their audience beyond the distinct ideas of love as simple sentiments....   [tags: William Shakespeare Romeo Juliet Essays] 1853 words
(5.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
The Symbol of Blood in William Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay - The Symbol of Blood in William Shakespeare's Macbeth Blood represents life, death and often injury. It is an essential part of life, and without blood, we could not live. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the symbol of blood to represent treachery, murder and death. The word "blood", or different forms of it, appear numerous times throughout the play. Interestingly, the symbol of blood changes throughout the play, corresponding to the atmosphere and mood changes in the characters and the play. First, blood is a reference of honor, and this occurs when Duncan sees the injured sergeant and says, "What bloody man is that?"(1.2.1)....   [tags: William Shakespeare Macbeth Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
703 words
(2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Essay - A play about Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare, is a fateful tragedy about two star- crossed lovers who were destined to be both together and apart from the beginning of the play. From the beginning of the story, a fateful chain of events lead Romeo and Juliet to each other. The drive and the force that was leading them to fall in love with each other, in an extraordinary circumstances, and to be apart in life and death, was fate itself. Fate plays a critical role in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet....   [tags: William Shakespeare] 1487 words
(4.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Essay - William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream The stage production of William Arden Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by a British director Tim Supple was one in a million-that everyone talked about it and questions rode questions, on how the performance went. ‘It is the best production I have ever seen. What grapples me most, is the cast, ravaging with a rich choreography’, this was said by the British Ambassador to India in a chat with Times of India. The almighty dramatist play was sponsored for production by the British Council, India....   [tags: William Shakespeare Midsummer Dream Essays] 537 words
(1.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Feste in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - Feste in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night In William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night, it is ironic how many times the fool is said to be dishonest, when, in fact, his role proves entirely opposite. Though sometimes the characters do not realize his hidden messages, the reader can instantly comprehend Feste's figurative language, which is evident in every scene in which the fool appears. Whether he is singing to Orsino, arguing with Malvolio, or playing around with Viola, Feste always manages to sneak in a few symbolic foretokens before his exit....   [tags: William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Essays] 1065 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches

It’s thought that at about this time (1592) Shakespeare joined an acting troupe known as The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the best in London (Hanna - Life). The troupe leased the theater (named, unoriginally, “The Theatre”) where they performed; they lost the lease in 1599 (Hanna - Life). By this time, though, the troupe had enough money to build their own theater, across the Thames on the less fashionable South Bank; this new theater was, of course, The Globe (Hanna - Life). The Globe opened in July, 1599, with some of the old timbers salvaged from The Theatre used in its construction (Hanna - Life). The Globe featured “Totus mundus agit histrionem" (A whole world of players)” as its motto (Hanna - Life).
When James I ascended the throne in 1603, the company changed its name to the “King’s Men” or “King’s Company” (Hanna - Life). The company’s instructions, conveyed to them in Letters Patent, told Shakespeare and eight other company members specifically to “use and exercise the art and faculty of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Interludes, Morals, Pastorals, stage plays ... as well for recreation of our loving subjects as for our solace and pleasure" (Hanna - Life). Things went well for the newly-christened King’s Men for another ten years, until 1613 (Hanna - Life). Then, on June 19, a cannon fired from the theater’s roof during a “gala performance of Henry VIII” set the Globe’s thatched roof on fire and the theater burned to the ground (Hanna - Life). The audience was so absorbed in the play that at first they ignored the fire, but when the walls and curtains went up, they surely must have run (Hanna - Life). By some miracle “there were no casualties, and the next spring the company had the theatre ‘new builded in a far fairer manner than before’" (Hanna - Life). Shakespeare “invested in the rebuilding” effort, but by that time he had retired to Stratford, to the “Great House of New Place” that he’d bought in 1597 (Hanna - Life). There were considerable land holdings associated with the house, and Shakespeare remained there, where he continued to write, until his death in 1616 (Hanna - Life). Ironically, he died on his alleged birthday, April 23 (Hanna). He was 52. Although he died at what we would consider a young age, he left behind a body of work that has made him immortal, and continues to light up theaters around the world.
His Times: The world 400 years ago is often seen as romantic and noble, but it was brutal, unsanitary and often terrifying. We’re familiar with a lot of the history of the time through films and TV shows; a movie about Elizabeth I was released recently. Shakespeare lived at a time of political upheaval and court intrigue, as well as a time of exploration. For example, a man named John Hawkins sailed to the New World a second time in 1561 (Hanna - Times). Trips like this were dangerous and daring, but also yielded treasure and more importantly, lands for the Crown. From 1577-1580 “Francis Proke sailed around the world” (Hanna - Times). In 1586 when he was 22, Mary Queen of Scots was tried for treason and executed the following year (Hanna - Times). And in 1588 one of the greatest events in English history took place: the English under the command of Queen Elizabeth I defeated the Spanish invasion fleet known as the Armada (Hanna - Times).
Unfortunately, this was also the time of the great plagues; plague swept through London in 1592-93, necessitating the closure of the theaters; plague struck again in 1603 (Hanna). This was also the year that Elizabeth I died and James IV, King of Scotland became James I of England (Hanna - Times). It was at this point that the “Lord Chamberlain’s Men” became the “King’s Men”; James I liked the theater and was a writer himself, publishing works on such subjects and witchcraft and “the divine right of kings” (Best-James I, 2005). In 1605, the “Gunpowder Plot” was hatched and Guy Fawkes lead a group of Catholics in an attempt to assassinate James and blow up Parliament (Hanna – Times). The English still celebrate “Guy Fawkes Day.”
As we saw, the Globe burned down in 1613 by which time Shakespeare had returned to Stratford. He lived only another three years.
Shakespeare’s world was brutal, dirty, plague-ridden and dangerous, but it was also a time of great adventure and exploration. Perhaps only such an age could have given the world a playwright of Shakespeare’s enduring power and stature.


Best, M. (2005). Facts and legends. Retrieved July 17, 2008 from
Best, M. (2005). James VI of Scotland, James I of England. Retrieved July 17, 2008 from
Hanna, G. (n.d.). The life of Mr. William Shakespeare. Retrieved July 17, 2008 from
Hanna, G. (n.d.). The times of Mr. William Shakespeare. Retrieved July 17, 2008 from

Return to