Essays Shakespeare'S Life

The exact day they married is not known, nor where.

Several hypotheses have been put forth to account for his life during this time, and a number of accounts are given by his earliest biographers.

According to Shakespeare's first biographer Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare fled Stratford after he got in trouble for poaching deer from local squire Thomas Lucy, and that he then wrote a scurrilous ballad about Lucy.

Their twin children, son Hamnet and daughter Judith, named after Shakespeare's neighbours Hamnet and Judith Sadler, were baptised on 2 February 1585, before Shakespeare was 21 years of age.

After the baptism of the twins in 1585, save for being party to a lawsuit to recover part of his mother's estate that had been mortgaged and lost by default, Shakespeare leaves no historical traces until Robert Greene jealously alludes to him as part of the London theatrical scene in 1592.

The profession was unregulated by a guild that could have established restrictions on new entrants to the profession—actors were literally "masterless men"—and several avenues existed to break into the field in the Elizabethan era.

Certainly Shakespeare had many opportunities to see professional playing companies in his youth.

Information about his life derives from public instead of private documents: vital records, real estate and tax records, lawsuits, records of payments, and references to Shakespeare and his works in printed and hand-written texts. John Shakespeare owned several properties in Stratford and had a profitable—though illegal—sideline of dealing in wool.

Nevertheless, hundreds of biographies have been written and more continue to be, most of which rely on inferences and the historical context of the 70 or so hard facts recorded about Shakespeare the man, a technique that sometimes leads to embellishment or unwarranted interpretation of the documented record. His exact date of birth is not known—the baptismal record was dated 26 April 1564—but has been traditionally taken to be 23 April 1564, which is also the Feast Day of Saint George, the patron saint of England. He was appointed to several municipal offices and served as an alderman in 1565, culminating in a term as bailiff, the chief magistrate of the town council, in 1568.

He was the first son and the first surviving child in the family; two earlier children, Joan and Margaret, had died early. For reasons unclear to history he fell upon hard times, beginning in 1576, when William was 12.

A market town then of around 2000 residents about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of London, Stratford was a centre for the marketing, distribution, and slaughter of sheep, hide tanning and wool trading, as well as for malting to supply brewers of ale and beer. He was prosecuted for unlicensed dealing in wool and for usury, and he mortgaged and subsequently lost some lands he had obtained through his wife's inheritance that would have been inherited by his eldest son.


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