Shakespeareans have been tantalized for generations by the possibility that a genuine life portrait of the man survives somewhere. Now Stanley Wells, professor emeritus of Shakespeare Studies at Birmingham University and one of the world's most distinguished Shakespeare scholars, says he has identified one. Wells is convinced that an oil painting on wood panel that has rested for centuries in the collection of an old Irish family was painted from life around 1610, when Shakespeare was 46. If that's so, it would be the only true likeness we have of the greatest writer of the English language.
While William Shakespeare's reputation is based primarily on his plays, he became famous first as a poet. With the partial exception of the Sonnets (1609), quarried since the early nineteenth century for autobiographical secrets allegedly encoded in them, the nondramatic writings have traditionally been pushed to the margins of the Shakespeare industry. Interest in Shakespeare's nondramatic writings has increased markedly in recent years. They are no longer so easily marginalized or dismissed as conventional, and they contribute in powerful ways to a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s oeuvre and the Elizabethan era in which he lived and wrote.
Most academics agree that William Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. Evidence for this comes from Parish records confirming his birth in 1564, records of his life in London in the 1600s, his name as a part shareholder of the Globe, his marriage certificate, his application to change his family’s coat of arms, and his recorded death in 1616.
Evidence for the Bard having written his plays comes from the First Folio of 1623. This book compiled 36 of William's plays, recording and publishing them for the first time. Its co-author John Hemminges was also a shareholder of the Globe and belonged to the same acting company (The Lord Chamberlain’s Men later named The King’s men) as did Shakespeare and so would have been privy to the true author.
John Hemminges and Henry Condell even remark of their late playwright that "His mind and hand went together and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers." They also prove he wrote the plays contained within the Folio, since the Folio contains a verse dedicated to the playwright's memory. This can be specifically read within the Folio.
William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were granted a marriage licence by the Bishop of Worcester. They were married at Temple Grafton, a village approximately five miles (8 km) from Stratford. After their marriage , as was the custom, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare would have left her home at Hewland Farm to live with William Shake-speare in his father, John Shakespeare's house on Henley Street in Stratford. Six months after the wedding and marriage, in May 1583, Anne and William became the parents of Susanna, the reason for Will and Anne Hathaway having to marry with such haste. The baptism of Susanna was conducted on May 26, in Stratford Parish Church. Will and his wife Anne Hathaway started their married life in Stratford.
Schools taught the official religion - but the teachers of William Shakespeare were Catholic. One of his teachers, Robert Dibdale was ordained a priest, and was martyred in 1586. It was dangerous to adhere to the old Catholic religion and the daughters of William Shakespeare attended the Protestant Church. The career of Shakespeare would have been seriously affected if he was believed to be a Catholic. Strict laws regulating the theater prohibited any explicitly religious or current political events from being represented on stage - but William Shakespeare makes repeated, sympathetic, references to Catholicism in his plays
William Shakespeare is one of the greatest poets and playwrights of the world. He changed the way plays were written by creating new styles of writing. His stories combine conflicts with which both kings and peasants could identify. His plots mirror the everyday lives of people, and encourage the audience to choose good over evil. He blended common issues into histories, seriousness into comedies, and humour into tragedies. This was a revolutionary concept in Shakespeare’s time.
Shakespeare influenced the English language more than any other writer in the world. He created over 2,000 new words and phrases. They include – schoolboy, shooting star, puppy-dog, football, bandit, partner, downstairs, leapfrog, alligator, and mimic. He introduced new phrases, experimented with different kinds of verse, and introduced new poetical and grammatical structures. Above all, his quotations have stood the test of time, and many words and phrases from his works gave become a part of our every day speech.
William Shakespeare’s works sometimes appear to have a language of its own. While most English speakers can boast of a 4000-word vocabulary, Shakespeare’s vocabulary spanned over 29,000 words. In fact, Shakespeare coined many of the terms that are now used in everyday speech. Words like ‘amazement’, ‘gloomy’, ‘zany’, and ‘equivocal’ were first used by none other than Shakespeare.
Shakespeare used a metrical pattern consisting of lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter, called blank verse. His plays were composed using blank verse, although there are passages in all the plays that deviate from the norm and are composed of other forms of poetry and/or simple prose.
Shakespeare's sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, with the exception of Sonnet 145, which is written in iambic tetrameter. Shakespeare's style of writing and metre choice were typical of the day, and other writings of the time influenced how he structured his compositions.
The Sonnets of William Shakespeare appeared, without his permission, in 1609 and advertised as "never before imprinted". The publisher, although reputable, clearly wanted to make use of the celebrity of William Shakespeare who by 1609 was a famous member of the Globe Theatre and could count royalty amongst his patrons. The 1609 quarto, entitled Shakespeares Sonnets, was published by Thomas Thorpe, printed by George Eld, and sold by William Aspley and William Wright. On May 20, 1609, Thomas Thorpe was granted a license to publish "a Booke called Shakespeare's sonnettes" as this entry in the Stationer's Register attests: "Thomas Thorpe Entred for his copie vnder thandes of master Wilson and master Lownes Warden a Booke called Shakespeares sonnettes". The publisher clearly went through the correct procedures prior to publication, so despite Shakespeare's reticence in publishing any of his works, there were apparently no irregularities by the publisher. Sonnets 138 and 144, despite the "never before imprinted" claim, had been included, albeit in a slightly different format, in The Passionate Pilgrime (1599) a poetry collection containing twenty poems by various poets. The title page to the second edition contains the inscription "By W. Shakespeare" but only five of the poems appear to be his. Once again these appear to have been published without the consent of William Shakespeare. There are no documented records of when the sonnets were written but Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets.
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of William Shakespeare's plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers.
History themed Plays: King Henry IV Part 1; King Henry IV Part 2; King Henry V; King Henry VI Part 1; King Henry VI Part 2; King Henry VI Part 3; King Henry VIII; King John; Richard II; Richard III.
Tragedy themed Plays: Antony and Cleopatra; Coriolanus; Hamlet; Julius Caesar; King Lear; Macbeth; Othello; Romeo and Juliet; Timon of Athens; Titus Andronicus.
Comedy themed Plays: Alls Well That Ends Well; As You Like It; Comedy of Errors; Cymbeline; Love's Labour's Lost; Measure for Measure; Merchant of Venice; Merry Wives of Windsor; Midsummer Nights Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Taming of the Shrew; The Tempest; Troilus and Cressida; Twelfth Night; Two Gentlemen of Verona; Winter's Tale.
William Shakespeare, surely the world's most performed and admired playwright, was born in April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, about 100 miles northwest of London. Education: Records for the Stratford grammar school (The King's New School - dedicated by Edward VI) from the time Shakespeare would have attended have been lost, but attend he undoubtedly did since the school was built and maintained expressly for the purpose of educating the sons of prominent citizens. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 and was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church April 25.