Shakespeare’s life

Apart from this documentation about his marriage, little is known of Shakespeare’s life after school and before his emergence as a playwright in London in 1592. These years of his life are known as ‘Lost Years’ as details regarding this period are sketchy. Circumstantial evidences point with almost equal plausibility that he could have been working as a schoolmaster, lawyer or glover with his father.

It is evident from the extremely magnificent quality of his works and the complexity as well as ingenuity of his plots that much of the time during the ‘lost years’ must have been spent in deep study and research. However, it is known that Shakespeare arrived in London in 1588 and by 1592, he was an established actor and playwright. This can be proven from the literary criticism of Shakespeare’s work by Robert Green dated 1592.

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This literary criticism was, however, less than flattering and showed that there was envy among the contemporary writers for his uncommon skill and fame. Robert Green is known to have apologized to Shakespeare through a letter. Several of his plays like Henry VI, The Comedy of Errors and Titus Andronicus had become famous by this time. Shakespeare then associated himself with Lord Chamberlain’s Men as an actor and a playwright.

He was in august company with the leading comedians like Will Kempe and leading tragic actors Richard Burbage being members of this troupe. Plays like Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, King John and Love’s Labour Lost were written during his long and fruitful association with this troupe. By 1611, Shakespeare had accumulated reasonable wealth through the publication and selling as well as the staging of his plays.

This allowed him to retire in considerable comfort to Stratford. His will was written in 1611. It is believed that he died on April 23, 1616. That he died on the same date he was born on is probably an arcane fact accentuating his enigmatic aura. He was interred on April 25, 1616 at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. In all, Shakespeare is known to have written 38 plays, but modern scholars dispute the exact number.

The First Folio contained 36 of these plays. Outside of English Literature Departments, those 36 plays along with Pericles represent the complete canon of Shakespeare’s plays. His versatility is evident from the fact that he wrote psychological tragedies, horror plays, tragedy of romantic love and tragedy of excessive pride. His comedies were just as varied ranging from serious to tragic, realistic to farcical as well as classical comedies.

Along with all this, he also wrote a set of plays generally referred to as historical plays which were marked by patriotic notes. His characters had human flaws, human virtues and human values. That is why perhaps people could identify with them and appreciate them. Thus, William Shakespeare, the greatest of English writers led as normal a life as any of us. He married, had children, retired like normal people do, but in the process he created several writings that are the best and the most beautiful lines in English Language.

He gave us a treasure and left behind this legacy for the future generation to cherish. His characters, his tragedies, melodramas, sonnets as well as the tragedies are just as alive and vivacious today as they were in his time. Such is the timelessness and indelible nature of his works that they shall never tarnish and keep on shining for countless more years to come.


(1) Mabillard, Amanda. William Shakespeare of Stratford. Shakespeare Online. 20 June 2000.


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