Рефераты. William Shakeseare

William Shakeseare

Shakespeare the man


Although the amount of factual knowledge available about Shakespeare is

surprisingly large for one of his station in life, many find it a little

disappointing, for it is mostly gleaned from documents of an official

character. Dates of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials; wills,

conveyances, legal processes, and payments by the court--these are the

dusty details. There are, however, a fair number of contemporary

allusions to him as a writer, and these add a reasonable amount of flesh

and blood to the biographical skeleton.

Early life in Stratford

The parish register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon,

Warwickshire, shows that he was baptized there on April 26, 1564; his

birthday is traditionally celebrated on April 23. His father, John

Shakespeare, was a burgess of the borough, who in 1565 was chosen an

alderman and in 1568 bailiff (the position corresponding to mayor, before

the grant of a further charter to Stratford in 1664). He was engaged in

various kinds of trade and appears to have suffered some fluctuations in

prosperity. His wife, Mary Arden, of Wilmcote, Warwickshire, came from an

ancient family and was the heiress to some land. (Given the somewhat

rigid social distinctions of the 16th century, this marriage must have

been a step up the social scale for John Shakespeare.)

Stratford enjoyed a grammar school of good quality, and the education

there was free, the schoolmaster's salary being paid by the borough. No

lists of the pupils who were at the school in the 16th century have

survived, but it would be absurd to suppose the bailiff of the town did

not send his son there. The boy's education would consist mostly of Latin

studies--learning to read, write, and speak the language fairly well and

studying some of the classical historians, moralists, and poets.

Shakespeare did not go on to the university, and indeed it is unlikely

that the tedious round of logic, rhetoric, and other studies then

followed there would have interested him.

Instead, at the age of 18 he married. Where and exactly when are not

known, but the episcopal registry at Worcester preserves a bond dated

November 28, 1582, and executed by two yeomen of Stratford, named

Sandells and Richardson, as a security to the bishop for the issue of a

license for the marriage of William Shakespeare and "Anne Hathaway of

Stratford," upon the consent of her friends and upon once asking of the

banns. (Anne died in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare. There is good

evidence to associate her with a family of Hathaways who inhabited a

beautiful farmhouse, now much visited, two miles from Stratford.) The

next date of interest is found in the records of the Stratford church,

where a daughter, named Susanna, born to William Shakespeare, was

baptized on May 26, 1583. On February 2, 1585, twins were baptized,

Hamnet and Judith. (The boy Hamnet, Shakespeare's only son, died 11 years


How Shakespeare spent the next eight years or so, until his name begins

to appear in London theatre records, is not known. There are stories--

given currency long after his death--of stealing deer and getting into

trouble with a local magnate, Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, near

Stratford; of earning his living as a schoolmaster in the country; of

going to London and gaining entry to the world of theatre by minding the

horses of theatregoers; it has also been conjectured that Shakespeare

spent some time as a member of a great household and that he was a

soldier, perhaps in the Low Countries. In lieu of external evidence, such

extrapolations about Shakespeare's life have often been made from the

internal "evidence" of his writings. But this method is unsatisfactory:

one cannot conclude, for example, from his allusions to the law that

Shakespeare was a lawyer; for he was clearly a writer, who without

difficulty could get whatever knowledge he needed for the composition of

his plays.

Career in the theatre

The first reference to Shakespeare in the literary world of London comes

in 1592, when a fellow dramatist, Robert Greene, declared in a pamphlet

written on his deathbed:

There is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his

Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide supposes he is as well able to

bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute

Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a


It is difficult to be certain what these words mean; but it is clear that

they are insulting and that Shakespeare is the object of the sarcasms.

When the book in which they appear (Greenes groats-worth of witte, bought

with a million of repentance, 1592) was published after Greene's death, a

mutual acquaintance wrote a preface offering an apology to Shakespeare

and testifying to his worth. This preface also indicates that Shakespeare

was by then making important friends. For, although the puritanical city

of London was generally hostile to the theatre, many of the nobility were

good patrons of the drama and friends of actors. Shakespeare seems to

have attracted the attention of the young Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd earl

of Southampton; and to this nobleman were dedicated his first published

poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

One striking piece of evidence that Shakespeare began to prosper early

and tried to retrieve the family fortunes and establish its gentility is

the fact that a coat of arms was granted to John Shakespeare in 1596.

Rough drafts of this grant have been preserved in the College of Arms,

London, though the final document, which must have been handed to the

Shakespeares, has not survived. It can scarcely be doubted that it was

William who took the initiative and paid the fees. The coat of arms

appears on Shakespeare's monument (constructed before 1623) in the

Stratford church. Equally interesting as evidence of Shakespeare's

worldly success was his purchase in 1597 of New Place, a large house in

Stratford, which as a boy he must have passed every day in walking to


It is not clear how his career in the theatre began; but from about 1594

onward he was an important member of the company of players known as the

Lord Chamberlain’s Men (called the King's Men after the accession of

James I in 1603). They had the best actor, Richard Burbage; they had the

best theatre, the Globe; they had the best dramatist, Shakespeare. It is

no wonder that the company prospered. Shakespeare became a full-time

professional man of his own theatre, sharing in a cooperative enterprise

and intimately concerned with the financial success of the plays he


Unfortunately, written records give little indication of the way in which

Shakespeare's professional life molded his marvellous artistry. All that

can be deduced is that for 20 years Shakespeare devoted himself

assiduously to his art, writing more than a million words of poetic drama

of the highest quality.

Private life

Shakespeare had little contact with officialdom, apart from walking--

dressed in the royal livery as a member of the King's Men--at the

coronation of King James I in 1604. He continued to look after his

financial interests. He bought properties in London and in Stratford. In

1605 he purchased a share (about one-fifth) of the Stratford tithes--a

fact that explains why he was eventually buried in the chancel of its

parish church. For some time he lodged with a French Huguenot family

called Mountjoy, who lived near St. Olave's Church, Cripplegate, London.

The records of a lawsuit in May 1612, due to a Mountjoy family quarrel,

show Shakespeare as giving evidence in a genial way (though unable to

remember certain important facts that would have decided the case) and as

interesting himself generally in the family's affairs.

No letters written by Shakespeare have survived, but a private letter to

him happened to get caught up with some official transactions of the town

of Stratford and so has been preserved in the borough archives. It was

written by one Richard Quiney and addressed by him from the Bell Inn in

Carter Lane, London, whither he had gone from Stratford upon business. On

one side of the paper is inscribed: "To my loving good friend and

countryman, Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, deliver these." Apparently Quiney

thought his fellow Stratfordian a person to whom he could apply for the

loan of 30--a large sum in Elizabethan money. Nothing further is known

about the transaction, but, because so few opportunities of seeing into

Shakespeare's private life present themselves, this begging letter

becomes a touching document. It is of some interest, moreover, that 18

years later Quiney's son Thomas became the husband of Judith,

Shakespeare's second daughter.

Shakespeare's will (made on March 25, 1616) is a long and detailed

document. It entailed his quite ample property on the male heirs of his

elder daughter, Susanna. (Both his daughters were then married, one to

the aforementioned Thomas Quiney and the other to John Hall, a respected

physician of Stratford.) As an afterthought, he bequeathed his "second-

best bed" to his wife; but no one can be certain what this notorious

legacy means. The testator's signatures to the will are apparently in a

shaky hand. Perhaps Shakespeare was already ill. He died on April 23,

1616. No name was inscribed on his gravestone in the chancel of the

parish church of Stratford-upon-Avon. Instead these lines, possibly his

own, appeared:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear

To dig the dust enclosed here.

Blest be the man that spares these stones,

And curst be he that moves my bones.


Shakespeare's family or friends, however, were not content with a simple

gravestone, and, within a few years, a monument was erected on the

chancel wall. It seems to have existed by 1623. Its epitaph, written in

Latin and inscribed immediately below the bust, attributes to Shakespeare

the worldly wisdom of Nestor, the genius of Socrates, and the poetic art

of Virgil. This apparently was how his contemporaries in Stratford-upon-

Avon wished their fellow citizen to be remembered.


Despite much scholarly argument, it is often impossible to date a given

play precisely. But there is a general consensus, especially for plays

written 1585-1601, 1605-07, and 1609 onward. The following list of first

performances is based on external and internal evidence, on general

stylistic and thematic considerations, and on the observation that an

output of no more than two plays a year seems to have been established in

those periods when dating is rather clearer than others.

1589-92 Henry VI, Part I; Henry VI, Part III; Henry VI, Part III

1592-93 Richard III, The Comedy of Errors

1593-94 Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew

1594-95 The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo and


1595-96 Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

1596-97 King John, The Merchant of Venice

1597-98 Henry IV, Part I; Henry IV, Part II

1598-99 Much Ado About Nothing

c. 1599 Henry V

1599-1600 Julius Caesar, As You Like It,

1600-01 Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor

1601-02 Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida

1602-03 All’s Well That Ends Well

1604-05 Measure For Measure, Othello

1605-06 King Lear, Macbeth

1606-07 Antony and Cleopatra

1607-08 Coriolanus, Timon of Athens

1608-09 Pericles

1609-10 Cymbeline

1610-11 The Winter’s Tale

c. 1611 The Tempest

1612-13 Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen

Shakespeare's two narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of

Lucrece, can be dated with certainty to the years when the Plague stopped

dramatic performances in London, in 1592 and 1593-94, respectively, just

before their publication. But the sonnets offer many and various

problems; they cannot have been written all at one time, and most

scholars set them within the period 1593-1600. "The Phoenix and the

Turtle" can be dated 1600-01.


During Shakespeare's early career, dramatists invariably sold their plays

to an actor's company, who then took charge of them, prepared working

promptbooks, and did their best to prevent another company or a publisher

from getting copies; in this way they could exploit the plays themselves

for as long as they drew an audience. But some plays did get published,

usually in small books called quartos. Occasionally plays were "pirated,"

the text being dictated by one or two disaffected actors from the company

that had performed it or else made up from shorthand notes taken

surreptitiously during performance and subsequently corrected during

other performances; parts 2 and 3 of the Henry VI (1594 and 1595) and

Hamlet (1603) quartos are examples of pirated, or "bad," texts. Sometimes

an author's "foul papers" (his first complete draft) or his "fair" copy--

or a transcript of either of these--got into a publisher's hands, and

"good quartos" were printed from them, such as those of Titus Andronicus

(1594), Love's Labour's Lost (1598), and Richard II (1597). After the

publication of "bad" quartos of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet (1597), the

Chamberlain's Men probably arranged for the release of the "foul papers"

so that second--"good"--quartos could supersede the garbled versions

already on the market. This company had powerful friends at court, and in

1600 a special order was entered in the Stationers' Register to "stay"

the publication of As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V,

possibly in order to assure that good texts were available. Subsequently

Henry V (1600) was pirated, and Much Ado About Nothing was printed from

"foul papers"; As You Like It did not appear in print until it was

included in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies,

published in folio (the reference is to the size of page) by a syndicate

in 1623 (later editions appearing in 1632 and 1663).

The only precedent for such a collected edition of public theatre plays

in a handsome folio volume was Ben Jonson's collected plays of 1616.

Shakespeare's folio included 36 plays, 22 of them appearing for the first

time in a good text. (For the Third Folio reissue of 1664, Pericles was

added from a quarto text of 1609, together with six apocryphal plays.)

The First Folio texts were prepared by John Heminge and Henry Condell

(two of Shakespeare's fellow sharers in the Chamberlain's, now the

King's, Men), who made every effort to present the volume worthily. Only

about 230 copies of the First Folio are known to have survived.

The following list gives details of plays first published individually

and indicates the authority for each substantive edition. Q stands for

Quarto: Q2, Q3, Q4, etc., stand for reprints of an original quarto. F

stands for the First Folio edition of 1623.

Henry VI, Part 2 Q 1594: a reported text. F from revised fair copies,

edited with reference to Q.

Titus Andronicus Q 1594: from foul papers. F from a copy of Q, with

additions from a manuscript that had been used as a promptbook.

Henry VI, Part 3 Q 1595: a reported text. F as for Henry VI, Part 2.

Richard III Q 1597: a reconstructed text prepared for use as a

promptbook. F from reprints of Q, edited with reference to foul papers

and containing some 200 additional lines.

Love's Labour's Lost Q is lost. Q2 1598: from foul papers, and badly

printed. F from Q2.

Romeo and Juliet Q 1597: a reported text. Q2 from foul papers, with some

reference to Q. F from a reprint of Q2.

Richard II Q 1597: from foul papers and missing the abdication scene. Q4

1608, with reported version of missing scene. F from reprints of Q, but

the abdication scene from an authoritative manuscript, probably the

promptbook (of which traces appear elsewhere in F).

Henry IV, Part 1 Q 1598: from foul papers. F from Q5, with some literary


A Midsummer Night's Dream Q 1600: from the author's fair copy. F from Q2,

with some reference to a promptbook.

The Merchant of Venice Q 1600: from foul papers. F from Q, with some

reference to a promptbook.

Henry IV, Part 2 Q 1600: from foul papers. F from Q, with reference to a


Much Ado About Nothing Q 1600: from the author's fair papers. F from Q,

with reference to a promptbook.

Henry V Q 1600: a reported text. F from foul papers (possibly of a second

version of the play).

The Merry Wives of Windsor Q 1602: a reported (and abbreviated) text. F

from a transcript, by Ralph Crane (scrivener of the King's Men), of a

revised promptbook.

Hamlet Q 1603: a reported text, with reference to an earlier play. Q2

from foul papers, with reference to Q. F from Q2, with reference to a

promptbook, with theatrical and authorial additions.

King Lear Q 1608: from an inadequate transcript of foul papers, with use

made of a reported version. F from Q, collated with a promptbook of a

shortened version.

Troilus and Cressida Q 1609: from a fair copy, possibly the author's. F

from Q, with reference to foul papers, adding 45 lines and the Prologue.

Pericles Q 1609: a poor text, badly printed with both auditory and

graphic errors.

Othello Q 1622: from a transcript of foul papers. F from Q, with

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