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William Shakespeare – Life and times. William Shakespeare was the third child of eight kids. He was the eldest son of John and Mary Shakespeare. It is assumed he was born in Stratford –upon –Avon on April 23, 1564 . . Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

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William Shakespeare was the third child of eight kids.

He was the eldest son of John and Mary Shakespeare.

It is assumed he was born in Stratford –upon –Avon on April 23, 1564.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

We do know that he was baptized on April 26, 1564 and children were generally baptized three days after birth.

Also, the fact that he died on April 23, 1616 makes the 23rd an even more popular day to choose.

However, no exact record was found.

family life
Family life
  • Father = John Shakespeare
    • Started as a glove maker
    • 1557 became a member of council
    • 1565 became an alderman
    • 1577-1601 had financial difficulties
      • 1596 William had a coat of arms designed for him
  • Mother = Mary Arden
    • Daughter of a wealthy landowner
    • One of eight girls
married life
Married Life
  • The first official document after his baptism was his marriage license to Anne Hathaway on Nov. 27, 1582.
    • He was 18 and she was 26.
  • They were married after only one set of public banns was announced (it was supposed to be three).
  • They had a child in May of 1583.
    • maybe a shot-gun wedding, maybe a troth plight
  • Suzanna was baptized on May 26.
  • They had twins in Feb. of 1585 (Hamnet and Judita).
  • Hamnet died while still a child (William left no heir).
  • He left everything but one item to Suzanna and her husband.
    • The second-best bed.

Anne Hathaway’s House


Henry IV at the Globe

Playwright and Actor

  • The first mention of William as a playwright was by his rival Robert Greene in 1592 in Groatsworth of Wit:
    • "for there is an up-start Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey."
  • This is important because not many playwrights were popular in their own time; he was.

In 1594 he joined an acting troupe named the Chamberlain’s men.

  • In 1603 the group was renamed the King’s men after King James I, this gave the group respectability

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=King+James+I&gbv=2 Oct. 5, 2007


This is why the Globe theatre was built on the other side of the Thames river.

  • It was therefore out of city jurisdiction
  • However, the other side of the river was not a good area of the city.
  • It was near the brothels, thieves, etc.


  • London authorities frowned upon acting.
  • Acting was even banned within city limits.










William was one-tenth owner of the theatre.

  • It was three sided.
  • Groundlings got in for a penny and stood on the dirt next to the stage
  • Groundlings brought in food to eat (hazelnuts) and food to throw at the actors in case the show was not entertaining.
    • This kept the actors on their toes and may have been one of the reasons why there are so many bawdy puns in his plays.
  • There was no roof over the center of the theatre.
    • This allowed for natural lighting.
  • There were three galleries for the rich (under a roof and seated)
  • The stage was slanted

There were no programs which is why the plays have prologues and parts for the chorus at the beginning of the play

  • Few props so the setting is often written into the dialogue of the play
  • All parts played by men –
      • Yes, that includes Juliet
      • Some boys voluntarily were castrated so they could keep their voices high and continue to play women (they were treated like royalty)
  • Troupes were small and therefore sometimes players were double cast (they played two people who were never on stage at the same time)


All's Well That Ends Well

As You Like It

The Comedy of Errors

Love's Labor's Lost

Measure for Measure

The Merchant of Venice

The Merry Wives of Windsor

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Much Ado About Nothing

The Taming of the Shrew

Twelfth Night; Or, What You Will

The Two Gentlemen of Verona


Antony and Cleopatra


Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Julius Caesar

King Lear


Othello, the Moor of Venice

Romeo and Juliet

Timon of Athens

Titus Andronicus


Henry IV, Part I

Henry IV, Part II

Henry V

Henry VI, Part I

Henry VI, Part II

Henry VI, Part III

Henry VIII

King John

Richard II

Richard III

Late Romances



The Tempest

The Two Noble Kinsmen

The Winter's Tale