Shakespeare also wrote 154 sonnets and several major poems, some of which are considered to be the most brilliant pieces of English literature ever written, because of Shakespeare's ability to rise beyond the narrative and describe the innermost and the most profound aspects of human nature. He is believed to have written most of his works between 1585-1610, although the exact dates and chronology of the plays attributed to him are not accurately known.
William Shakespeare (baptised April 26 , 1564 , died (O.S.) April 23 , 1616 ) is considered by many to have been the greatest writer the English language has ever known. As aplaywright he wrote not only some of the most powerful tragedies, but also many of the funniest comedies ever to appear on an English stage.
Shakespeare's influence on the English-speaking world is reflected inthe ready recognition afforded many quotations from Shakespearean plays, the titles of works based on Shakespearean phrases, and the of his plays. Other indicators of contemporary influence are his inclusion in the top 10 of the "100 Greatest Britons" poll sponsored by the BBC, the frequent productions based on his work, such as the BBC Television Shakespeare, and the success of the fictional account of his life in the 1998 filmShakespeare in Love Click Here for a more detailed account.
Most historians agree that actor and playwright were the same WilliamShakespeare for whom we have considerable historical records.Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, inApril 1564, the son of John Shakespeare , a glove maker, andMary Arden. The baptism of Shakespeare is recorded on April 26 ofthat year and the 23rd has traditionally been considered hisbirthday. His father, prosperous at the time of William's birth, wasprosecuted for participating in the black market in wool, and later losthis position as an alderman. There is some evidence that bothsides of the family had Roman Catholic sympathies.
On May 26, 1583 Shakespeare's first child, Susanna, wasbaptised at Stratford. This was soon followed on February 2 , 1585, with the baptisms of a son, Hamnet, and a daughter, Judith.
By 1592 , he was sufficiently known to be denounced by RobertGreene as "an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that withhis Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able tobombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absoluteJohannes factotum , is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene ina countrey." (The italicised line is a parody of the phrase, "Oh,tiger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide" which Shakespeare used in HenryVI, part 3 )
In 1596 Hamnet died; he was buried on August 11 , 1596 .Because of the similarities of their names, some suspect that his deathwas the impetus for Shakespeare's The Tragical History of Hamlet, Princeof Denmark .
In 1597 Shakespeare sold "one messuage, two barns, two gardens, twoorchards, with appurtenances, in Stradford-upon-Avon" to WilliamUnderhill for sixty pounds. The house on this property was thatbuilt by Sir Hugh Clopton .
By 1598 Shakespeare had moved to the parish of St. Helen's,Bishopgate and appeared top of a list of actors (Every man in his Humor)produced by Ben Jonson .
Shakespeare became an actor, writer and ultimately part-owner of anacting company known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men - the companywas named, like others of the period, for their aristocratic sponsor. Itwas sufficiently popular that after the death of Elizabeth I andthe coronation of James I (1603 ), the new monarch adopted thecompany and it became known as The King's Men .
Various documents recording legal affairs, and business transactionsshow that Shakespeare grew increasingly affluent in his London years. Hedid well enough to buy a property in Blackfriars, London , andowned the largest house in Stratford.
In 1609 Shakespeare published his sonnets , love poems addressed someto a 'dark lady' , and some to a young man (or 'fair lord' ).
Shakespeare retired approximately 1611 and died in 1616 , on April 23rd, perhaps the reason behind the tradition of his birthday being this same day. He remained married to Anne until his death. Of their three children, Hamnet, the only boy, died at the age of 11. There were two daughters, Susannah and Judith. Susannah married Dr John Hall , and was later the subject of a court case.
Coincidentally, Shakespeare died on the same day as his Spanish counterpartMiguel de Cervantes .
Identity and Authorship of Shakespeare's Plays
Main article: Shakespearean authorship
The vast majority of academics accept that the William Shakespererecorded as living in Stratford-upon-Avon, the actor Shakespeare and theplaywright Shakespeare are one and the same person, but this subject hasbeen hotly debated over the years; even the painting that accompaniesthis article (and appears above the name "William Shakespeare" in theNational Portrait Gallery, London ) may not be a representation ofShakespeare at all. Sir Francis Bacon , Edward de Vere , andChristopher Marlowe have been suggested as alternative authors orco-authors for some or all of Shakespeare's work.
The idea that Shakespeare himself wrote all of what are commonlyaccepted as his plays has also been called into question. There isongoing serious academic work to ascertain the authorship of plays andpoems of the time, both those attributed to Shakespeare and others.
Shakespeare's Plays and their Categories
Shakespeare's plays were published as a series of folios and quartos, and continue to be widely studied and performed. They are a firm part of the Western canon of literature. Even people who have not read the plays often - unknowingly - quote Shakespeare whose words continue to be in current usage. For example: "We have seen better days." , "What's in a name? "
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His dramatic work can be categorised as follows:
- Shakespearean tragedies
- Shakespearean comedies
- The Comedy of Errors
- All's Well That Ends Well
- As You Like It
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Measure for Measure
- The Tempest
- Taming of the Shrew
- Twelfth Night or What You Will
- The Merchant of Venice
- The Merry Wives of Windsor
- Love's Labour's Lost
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona
- Pericles Prince of Tyre
- The Winter's Tale
- Shakespearean histories
- Richard III
- Richard II
- Henry VI, part 1
- Henry VI, part 2
- Henry VI, part 3
- Henry V
- Henry IV, part 1
- Henry IV, part 2
- Henry VIII
- King John
We are proud to announce the creation of a new gallery of exquisitely drawn sketches and engravings illustrating the most famous scenes from Shakespeare. Click here to view the image gallery.
Some scholars of Shakespeare break the category of "Comedies" into"Comedies" and "Romances ." The plays included in this categoryare Cymbeline , The Winter's Tale , Pericles Prince ofTyre , and The Tempest .
Dramatic Collaborations between Shakespeare and Other Playwrights
- The Two Noble Kinsmen , published in quarto in 1654, was attributed to playwrights John Fletcher and William Shakespeare, and about half of it seems to be written by Shakespeare and half by Fletcher.
- Shakespeare is reported to have collaborated on a second play with Fletcher, Cardenio, based on an episode from Don Quixote .
Click here for the full texts of the doubtful works.
- Edward III Some scholars have recently chosen to attribute this play to Shakespeare, based on the style of its verse. Others refuse to accept it, citing, among other reasons, the mediocre quality of the characters.
- The Book of Sir Thomas More , a collaborative work by several playwrights, one of whom may have been Shakespeare. That Shakespeare had any part in this play is no longer generally accepted, however.
- Love's Labour's Won A late sixteenth-century document lists this among Shakespeare's recent works, but no play by this title survives. It may be the alternate title of one of the plays listed above, such as Love's Labours Lost or All's Well That Ends Well.
Other Works by Shakespeare
Shakespeare's other literary works include:
- Sonnets (See also sonnet )
- Longer poems:Venus and Adonis ,The Rape of Lucrece ,The Passionate Pilgrim and The Phoenix and the Turtle
- Funeral Elegy by W.S. ?
For a period it was thought on the basis of evidence researched by DonFoster that Shakespeare wrote a Funeral Elegy for William Peter . However most scholars now conclude that this work was not his.
Portions adapted from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare" All text is availableunder the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License