Shakespeare’s life can be divided into three periods:
The first 20 years or so in Stratford, to include his schooling, early marriage, and
fatherhood. 1 wife and three children.
-parents: John and Mary (Arden) were married about 1557
-father is a “glover” and works with leather
-Mary’s family had land
-William, the eldest son, born in 1564, probably on April 23rd
-Schooled: studies Latin and the classics
-Probably worked with his father
-father experienced setback and was sued by many for non-payment of debts
-Mary and John were possibly secret Catholics
-perhaps their was discrimination against them
-At age 19 (1582), William marries Anne Hathaway (age 26 or 27). (probably a shotgun
-Their first daughter (Susanna) was born six months later (1583).
-She survives Shakespeare and marries well.
-1585: twins, Judith and Hamnet born
The next 25 years as an actor and playwright in London.
-1589: first evidence of his presence in London
-1589-92: lost years, not sure if he was a soldier or a clerk in a law firm
-plays show evidence of his knowledge of botany
-1592-94: plague closes the theaters in London for two years
-Shakespeare takes a patron and begins to write
-question of his sexuality: was he in a sexual relationship with his patron?
-1596: death of his only son, Hamnet, age 11
-no record of a reaction to this from Shakespeare
-probably visited Stratford and his family once a year but did financially support
-1599: Shakespeare becomes a working partner in the new Globe Theatre
-was part owner and contributed financially
-1603: death of Queen Elizabeth. The Chamberlains Men renamed the King’s Men
The last five or six in retirement in Stratford. Buys the biggest house in Stratford. Buys a
coat of arms.
-1610: leaves London, returns to Stratford, continues to write
-1614: final play written
-changed his will at the end of his life
-oldest daughter, Susanna, is very successful (educated and marries well)
-youngest daughter, Judith, is not as successful (marries a rogue, who had
impregnated another woman)
-Shakespeare leaves everything to his oldest daughter, Susanna
-Anne, his wife, is left his “second-best bed”
-maybe it was an inside joke?
His Plays:
1606-07: Antony and Cleopatra first performed. First print 1623.
1607-08 Coriolanus firs performed. First print 1623
1611-12: Cymbeline, First recorded performance. First printed 1623.
1611-1612: The Winter’s Tale: First recorded performance. First printed 1623.
1612-13: Henry VIII