Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Autobiography of William Shakespeare. Project. XI. WBCHSE




A man from any part of the world who has read English literature, knows me. I am William Shakespeare, a renowned English poet, playwright, and actor born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. My birthday is most commonly celebrated on 23 April which is also believed to be the date of my death.


I was a prolific writer during the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages of British theatre (sometimes called the English Renaissance or the Early Modern Period). My plays are perhaps my most enduring legacy, but they are not all I wrote. My poems also remain popular to this day.


Records survive relating to my family that offer an understanding of the context of my early life and the lives of my family members. My father John Shakespeare married my mother Mary Arden, and together they had eight children. My parents lost two daughters as infants, so I became their eldest child. Father worked as a glove-maker, but he also became an important figure in the town of Stratford by fulfilling civic positions and duties. His elevated status meant that he was even more likely to have sent his children, including me, to the local grammar school.


I would have lived with his family in their house on Henley Street until he turned eighteen. When I was eighteen, I married Anne Hathaway, who was twenty-six. My marriage was a rushed marriage because my wife Anne was already pregnant at the time of the ceremony. Together we had three children. Our first daughter, Susanna, was born six months after the wedding and was later followed by twins Hamnet and Judith. Sadly my sonHamnet died when he was just 11 years old.


It was a wrong hearsay that people thought I stole a sheep from a nearby field and I fled away to London. It was completely a lie. My career jump-started in London. People know that my twins were baptised in 1585, and that by 1592 my reputation was established in London, but the intervening years are considered a mystery. Scholars generally refer to these years as ‘The Lost Years’.


During my time in London, my first printed works were published. Those were two very long poems, 'Venus and Adonis' (1593) and 'The Rape of Lucrece' (1594). I also became a founding member of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company of actors. I was the company's regular dramatist, producing on average two plays a year, for almost twenty years.


I remained with the company for the rest of my career, during which time it evolved into The King’s Men under the patronage of King James I (from 1603). During my time in the company, I wrote many of my most famous tragedies, such as King Lear and Macbeth, as well as great romances, like The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.


Altogether my works include 38 plays, 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets, and a variety of other poems. No original manuscripts of my plays are known to exist today due to natural decay. It is actually thanks to a group of actors from my company that people have about half of the plays at all. They collected them for publication after I died, preserving the plays. These writings later were brought together in what is known as the First Folio ('Folio' refers to the size of the paper used). It contained 36 of his plays, but none of my poetry.


I have no doubt to say that my legacy is as rich and diverse as my work; my plays have spawned countless adaptations across multiple genres and cultures. My plays have had an enduring presence on stage and film. My writings have been compiled in various iterations of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which include all of my plays, sonnets, and other poems. I continue to be one of the most important literary figures of the English language.


My success in the London theatres made me considerably wealthy, and by 1597 I was able to purchase New Place, the largest house in the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon. Although my professional career was spent in London, I maintained close links with my native town.


On my father's death in 1601, I inherited the old family home in Henley Street part of which was then leased to tenants. Later more properties investments in Stratford followed, including the purchase of 107 acres of land in 1602.


I died in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 April 1616 at the age of 52. I am buried in the sanctuary of the parish church, Holy Trinity.

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