Thursday, March 26, 2009


Revered for generations as possibly the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare was a poet, playwright, and actor. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon where he spent his childhood and youth. After he had become a successful dramatist and a wealthy businessman, he retired to it.

Soon after he left school, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, and then he probably went to London to seek his fortune, where he managed to get a minor job in the theater and learned the art of acting. The company of players he joined is not known. He may have connected with more than one, but the most probable company was that which had as its patron the Earl of Pembroke.

Shakespeare became a competent actor. A contemporary witness told that he played the parts of kings. It is also felt by some scholars that he reserved for himself such roles as Adam in as you like it and as the ghost in Hamlet.

Shakespeare also learned to write plays. By 1592, he was quite successful. Those of his early period include The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, the Spanish Tragedy, and Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3. Similar themes followed in Richard III and Henry VII. From 1592, the theaters were closed almost continuously for two years because of the bubonic plague.

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