Below are some frequently asked questions I have received from students who have been researching the great bard. I hav e compiled them into this article to help more students with their research.
What year was Shakespeare born?
William Shakespeare was most likely born on 23 April 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, he was baptised on 26 April 1564.
When did Shakespeare die, what did he die of, and where was he buried?
Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, supposedly of a brief fever caused by too much drinking. He was buried two days later in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Who was Shakespeare’s wife?
Shakespeare’s wife was Anne Hathaway; she was probably nine years older than Shakespeare, and already pregnant, when they married in 1582.
Did Shakespeare love his wife?
We know little about Shakespeare’s marriage. He and Anne had three children, but he spent many years apart from her, working as an actor and playwright in London. Also, his will makes no affectionate mention of his wife aside from the bequest of his second best bed.
Did Shakespeare have children?
Yes, he had three children. Susanna was his eldest daughter, and he had twins, a son named Hamnet (who died at 11) and a daughter named Judith.
Is anyone alive today a direct descendant of Shakespeare?
No. Of Shakespeare’s three children, only his daughter Judith had children. Her three sons died before marriage. However, his sister, Joan, married a man named William Hart and their descendants are still alive today.
Was Shakespeare well-educated?
Debate over the authorship of Shakespeare’s works will likely continue. Many people believe that the gentleman from Stratford could not have written the plays; he simply lacked the breadth and depth of necessary education to know the stories from classical history.
Other scholars believe that the Shakespeare of Stratford received a good education at his local grammar school and further educated himself as an actor and playwright in London.
Was Shakespeare wealthy?
Shakespeare was not poor, but he was not wealthy either. In his middle age, he was comfortably well off. He was able to purchase the second largest house in Stratford in 1597, and also owned property in London. He was also a shareholder in his theater company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later The King’s Men), and a part owner of The Globe and Blackfriars theaters.
Was Shakespeare religious?
Scholars have spent centuries attempting to understand Shakespeare’s personal religious and spiritual feelings. He was undoubtedly an outward Protestant, as that was the official religion of England in tudor times. However, his plays and poetry reveal a curious, searching mind, always sensitive to the vagaries of human existence. We really have no way of knowing his personal feelings.
How much do we really know about Shakespeare’s life?
Frustratingly little. No genuine artifacts from Shakespeare’s life have survived. We have a few copies of his signature on legal documents, but little else. Much of what scholars presume to know is based upon contemporary sources.
Did Shakespeare’s family ever live in London?
There is no evidence to suggest Anne and the children ever joined Shakespeare in London.
Why did Shakespeare begin to write plays?
Shakespeare was first an actor, then a playwright. Theater companies either used their own ‘in house’ playwrights or bought plays to perform. It is likely that Shakespeare enjoyed writing and his skill was noted by his fellow actors and encouraged accordingly.
It is worth remembering that Shakespeare’s work was intended as entertainment first and foremost. Its genius lies in its ability to both entertain and enlighten.
What was Shakespeare’s first play?
We don’t know the exact date of composition of most of his plays. But scholars use contemporary sources and compare style, theme, etc to group the plays into ‘early’ and ‘late’. Candidates for his first play include Henry VI, Part Two, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew. These are believed to have been written between 1589-1591.
How many plays did Shakespeare write?
Most editions of his complete works list 38 plays. But some scholars argue that King Edward III and Sir Thomas More should be included, as well as a lost play, Cardenio.
How many words did Shakespeare write?
Shakespeare’s works include – according to the most complete concordance of his works – 884,647 words.
What is Shakespeare’s last play?
Most scholars agree his last play was The Two Noble Kinsmen, which he co-wrote with fellow playwright, John Fletcher. Its composition is dated to 1613.
What is Shakespeare’s shortest play? His longest play?
Shakespeare’s shortest play is The Comedy of Errors, which has 1,787 lines and 14,701 words. His longest play is Hamlet, which has 4,042 lines and 30,557 words.
Was Shakespeare popular in his own time?
Absolutely. He was one of the most popular playwrights of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, and his popularity only grew in subsequent centuries. Also, his fellow actors and writers admired him, as demonstrated by their collection and publication of his works in the “First Folio” of 1623.
What was Shakespeare’s most popular play during his lifetime?
This is impossible to answer. We know several of his plays were very popular, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and many others.
How much did it cost to see one of Shakespeare’s plays?
Admission to the Globe (an outdoor theater) was one penny to get in. If you wanted to sit in the balcony, you paid another penny. That’s about $3 in today’s money.
Is it true that men played the female roles in Shakespeare’s plays?
Yes, that is true. Women were not legally allowed to perform on stage for another century, and even then it took some time before the practice became widespread. Young men typically played the female roles since their voices had not yet deepened and they had no facial hair. Shakespeare references this in Hamlet, when the prince teases one of the visiting actors.
Was William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon the real author of the works?
This question will never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction. The ‘authorship debate’, as it is known, has raged for well over a century. There is conflicting evidence on both sides, with the most persuasive anti-Stratford candidate being Edward de Vere, earl of Oxford. However, if Oxford had truly written the plays and poetry, his deception would have required the assistance of dozens of actors, playwrights, tradesmen, etc
As to why Oxford, if he was indeed the author, would have preferred anonymity? The nature of the plays, as well as the very act of playwriting, would have been troublesome for a prominent nobleman.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Shakespeare Facts" https://englishhistory.net/shakespeare/facts/, April 19, 2015