Elizabethan Age: William Shakespeare interesting life history


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Elizabethan Age

● William Shakespeare lived during a great period in English history
● Reign of the Tudor queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

image 1
Queen Elizabeth I, Armada
Portrait (c.1588


● England emerged as the leading naval and
commercial power of Europe
● Defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588
● Spirit of nationalism
● Protestant Church firmly established
● Sir Francis Drake, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir
Walter Raleigh pioneered the eastern navigations
and colonial trade

image
Viola and Countess

London in the Elizabethan Age

● London centre of culture and commerce beside
the Thames
● Growing population; dominant merchant class
● Immigrants from other towns
● A large number of poets and dramatists
● Drama most popular entertainment
● Noisy, dirty, narrow streets

image 2
Elizabethan London

The Common Citizens
● Unlike the gentry, the citizens
● generally lived in London
● derived their wealth from trade
● never attended the court
● sponsored entertainments
● ran the “apprentice system” by which young men learned a
trade as an employee of a master
● From the citizens’ perspective, the courtier was an immoral,
extravagant spendthrift, while the citizens themselves were
associated with the virtues of hard work, thrift and honesty
● The courtiers in turn derided the citizens as unfashionable and
vulgar.
● Strong ale common drink

image 3
An Elizabethan Street
image 4
Elizabethan house

Elizabethan Theatre
● Round, wooden, roofless building
● Three galleries of seats
● Pit (no seats) cost a penny “groundlings”
● Main stage
● 40 feet wide
● 27 feet projection into the pit
● Recessed inner stage (curtains and balcony)
● Music Room
● Provisions for Heaven and Hell

image 5
The Swan Theatre
image 6
Elizabethan Age: William Shakespeare interesting life history 18
image 7
Globe Theatre
image 8
Theatre Costumes

The First Folio (1623)


● Titled “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies,
Histories, & Tragedies”
● Compiled by John Heminges and Henry Condell
● Dedicated to the “incomparable pair of brethren”
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, and his
brother Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery.
● This was the first collected edition of his plays
● Only 36 included in the First Folio (Pericles not included)

image 9
The First Folio
image 10
Dramatische Werke

Gorboduc
or Ferrex and Porrex (1561)
● First tragedy in English
● First play to be written in blank verse
● Theme of political rivalry
● Thomas Norton wrote the first three acts of
Gorboduc, and Thomas Sackville, the last two.

image 11
Thomas Sackville

Commedia dell’arte
● In contrast to the learned Elizabethan plays, much of
European drama of this period was influenced by
Commedia dell’arte, a bawdy street theatre of 15th
century Italy.
● It is characterized by improvised dialogue and a cast of
colorful stock characters
● Rapidly gained popularity throughout Europe.
● Traces of the form are visible in much Renaissance
drama, including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Taming of
the Shrew, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It, The
Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

image 12
A Painting of a Commedia Dell’arte Troupe
Shakespeare Age
Flemish Painting of Commedia Dell’arte
image 14
A Mask from the Commedia Dell’arte Tradition

Shakespeare: Life


● William Shakespeare was born the son of John
and Mary Arden Shakespeare in a small town,
Stratford-upon Avon, 100 miles northwest of
London
● His father John belonged to a farming family near
Stratford
● Like his son, John had also left his family and
moved to a larger commercial centre (Stratford)
● Here, he worked as a leather worker, a glover, and
soon became a leading merchant.

By 1552, he bought the western portion of the
double-house in Henley Street, now known as
“Shakespeare’s Birthplace”.
● In 1557, John married Mary Arden, the daughter of
his father’s wealthy landlord
● Though John had initially struggled with financial
difficulties, he was gradually rising in social stature,
and would soon be a burgess in the borough, an
alderman, and by 1568, bailiff (a position equal to
the mayor).
● William, the third child of their eight children, was
thus born into a respectable business household.

William Shakespeare’s birth is celebrated on 23 April
1564, 3 days before his baptism was entered in the
parish register of the Holy Trinity Church on 26 April
● However, England followed the Julian Calendar at this time,
and Shakespeare’s birthday would fall on 5 May according to
the Gregorian Calendar
● Shakespeare might have been born a day or two earlier, but
the date 23 April appeals to sentiments because
● This is the feast of St. George, England’s patron saint
● It is on 23 April that Shakespeare died
● 23 April is also the birth as well as death day of Miguel de
Cervantes, according to the Gregorian Calendar

image 15
Shakespeare’s Birth Place

Shakespeare’s Family

Shakespeare’s Family
● In 1582 at age 18, he married Anne Hathaway, a
woman eight years his senior and three months
pregnant with their first child.
● Pregnant brides were not uncommon at that time, nor
particularly censured
● Their daughter, Susanna, was born in 1583, and
twins, Hamnet and Judith, came in 1585.
● The twins were possibly named after Shakespeare’s
friends, Hamnet Sadler, a baker, and his wife Judith.
● Hamnet died in 1596.
● As was unusual at that time, the Shakespeares
had no more children.

Shakespeare in London


● Shakespeare seems to have departed to London
sometime in the 1580s.
● The 7 years from 1585 to 1592 are called “lost
years”
● There is no historical evidence on what he did at this
time
● In 1592, we have the first clear reference to
Shakespeare as an actor / playwright in London
● Robert Greene, in A Groatsworth of Wit (1592),
makes the famous attack on Shakespeare

Greene’s Attack


● “Yes, trust them not, for 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 bumbast out a
blanke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute
Johannes Factotum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shakescene
in a countrie.”
● “Upstart crow”: a crow from the folk tale, who sticks the feathers of
other beautiful birds to his tail, and thinks he himself has become
the prettiest
● “Tiger’s heart”: A tiger from the folk tale who wears sheepskin and
pretends to be a sheep; here, instead of sheepskin, the “cheat”
Shakespeare is wearing the “hide” of an actor.
● “Johannes Factotum”: Jack of all trades; one who pretends to know
everything
● “Shake-scene”: This is what reveals to us that he is referring to
Shakespeare

Shakespeare & the London Theatre

● In London, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (also called Lord
Strange’s Men) performed his plays, and also probably
the Queen’s Men
● Shakespeare owned shares in the Second Blackfriars
Theatre, an indoor theatre built by James Burbage, and
later, the Globe.
● In the 1590s, the London theatre scene was unsettled
● Actors’ companies were forming and disbanding
themselves under the pressure of the plague.
● All London theatres were closed from 1592 to 94 due
to the plague.
● Shakespeare seems to have turned to non-dramatic
poetry at this time

Click to continue: Read Life of great dramatist William Shakespeare: History Part-2

Shakespeare : https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/william-shakespeare/william-shakespeare-biography/

2 comments on “Elizabethan Age: William Shakespeare interesting life history

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    Jacobean Age – Wit Critic

    • December 4, 2023 at 7:57 pm

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