Firethorn's Den


Thumbnail Image He that commends me to mine own content
Commends me to the thing I cannot get:
I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitve, confounds himself.

The playwright's life as it had been pieced together is somewhat brief, as Mark Twain commented that the creation of Shakespeare's biography is liked trying to reconstruct a dinosaur from a few bits of bone stuck together with plaster. There are missing facts in between the periods of time that makes his chronology short indeed.

Throughout Shakespeare's lifetime, his name was variously spelled as Shagsbere, Shakespeare, Shaxpere, Shackespere, Shaxpeare, Shakesspeare, and Shakspeare.

Shakespeare is the only writer whose authorship has been called into question. Those who doubt Shakespeare's authorship are called "anti-Stratfordians." Anti-Stratfordians never deny that there was a man from Stratford named William Shakespeare; they just don't believe that an uneducated man from a backwater could have written the poetic masterpieces attributed to him.

In 1920, an English schoolmaster named J. Thomas Looney (pronounced Lawney) arrived at his decision by compiling an arduous list of all the attributes he thought that "Shakespeare" should possess. He came up with his man, Edward de Vere, the seventeenth earl of Oxford. In 1922, Looney published Shakespeare Identified, which has become the bible of the Oxfordian movement.

Finally, in 1987, after a mock trial held in Washington, D.C., three U.S. Supreme Court justices pronounced that Shakespeare was the true author of Shakespeare's works. The following year a similar trial was held and presided over by three lords of appeal at the Inns of Court in London, with similar results.

Shakespeare's parents, John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, lived in Stratford where he was born. He was christened on April 26, 1564, and according to the custom, he would be baptized three days after his birth, so Shakespeare's birthday is recognized as April 23, the same day his burial fifty-two years later.

There's no record that Shakespeare attended school but there isn't any evidence against it either. His early biography shows that he took up his father's trade which dealt in commodities such as wool and grain, untill he became a play-wright.

Willelmum Shaxpeare, at age 18, was married to Anne Hathaway, age 26, in 1582. On May 26 of the same year, Susanna Shakespeare was christened. Two years later, on February 2, 1585, the twins Judith and Hamnet were born.

There are no official records of Shakespeare's whereabout from 1585 to 1592, untill the London years as the biographers pieced them together to become a brief chornology:

Shakespeare is first mentioned as being in London when he is singled out by the rival dramatist Robert Greene in his bitter deathbed pamphlet entitled A Groats-worth of Wit.

Shakespeare's first play, Henry VI, Titus Andronicus, and The Comedy of Errors, are the hits of the London season.

"Venus and Adonis," Shakespeare's highly erotic and ornate mythological poem, is published and dedicated to the Earl of Southampton.

Shakespeare begins writing the sonnets.

"The Rape of Lucrece," a long narrative poem, is published, with an extremely warm dedication to the Earl of Southampton, leading some scholars to speculate that while the theatres were closed, Shakespeare lived at the Southampton estate.

The Lord Chamberlain's Men is formed, and for the next ten years it is London's premier acting company.

Official documents, such as tax assessments, court records, and land titles, reveal Shakespeare's desire to establish himself as a man of property.

Shakespeare applies for and is granted a coat of arms, the Elizabethan status symbol, on behalf of his father whose request was denied years earlier. Father and son are now permitted to write "Gentleman" after their names. The family motto is Non sanz droit ("Not Without Right"); their crest is of a falcon shaking a spear.

Shakespeare purchases New Place, the second largest house in Stratford. Unlike other London dramatists, Shakespeare maintains his connections to his hometown, and according to tradition, he pays regular visits to his wife and children.

Shakespeare is made a principal shareholder in the Globe playhouse (rare for a playwright). thus establishing himself as a successful businessman.

Shakespeare's greatest period, during which he writes Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Othello, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and Anthony and Cleopatra.

With the succession of James I, Shakespeare's company is given the royal patent and is now know as the King's Men. It performs about twelve times a year at court.

Shakespeare's final period, during which he writes the romances Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest.

Shakespeare permanently leaves the London stage and retires to his home in Stratford, where he is an important member of the local gentry.

Shakespeare collaborates with John Fletcher on Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and the lost play Cardenio.

Shakespeare dies.

The First Folio is published by Shakespeare's fellow actors Heminge and Condell.

The Epitaph:
This is Shakespeare's voice from beyond the grave. As the custom goes; when the burial ground became overcrowded, gravediggers would empty the old graves and dump the remains in the charnel houses to make way for fresh ones. And his epitaph was to be taken as a No Tresspassing sign. Until now, it's worked.

Thumbnail Image 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 And His World --by F.E. Halliday
The friendly Shakespeare --by Norrie Epstein
William Shakespeare, A biography --by A.L. Rowse

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