Illustrated Biography of William Shakespeare

by: Manju Gupta

Product Details

Price:Rs. 175, $ 2.99
Pub Date:January 2016
Subject:Biographies & Autobiographies, Authors
BISAC:BIO000000, JNF007000

Hundreds of years have passed since William Shakespeare's time. He has left behind nearly a million words of text, but his life is still a mystery. This book is an engaging introduction to a subject that students will certainly encounter many times throughout their education—and their lives.

Lucid language and dramatic illustrations re-create the Bard's world of kings and queens, fairies and potions, and bloody beheadings. It imparts an amazing amount of vivid, interesting material about place, period and background of Shakespeare.

This sweeping account is a biography, a history, and a retelling of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays—all in one approachable volume.


Salient Features:

• Shakespeare's Early Life

• Life as Playwright and Actor

• Theatre Companies

• Style of Presentation

• Last Years of Life

• England of Shakespeare's Days

• Drama in Shakespeare's Days

• Shakespeare's Greatness as a Poet

• Shakespeare's Influence

• Works of Shakespeare in detail

• Principal Facts of Shakespeare's Life


This book is available on Amazon Kindle.

             PART 1
             Chapter 1
             EARLY LIFE
             Parents and Siblings
             Boyhood and Schooling
             Physical Appearance
             Marriage and Children
             Chapter 2
             LOST YEARS
             Chapter 3
             Career in Theatre
             Criticism by Anti-Stratfordians
             Chapter 4
             HIS FIRST POEMS
             Chapter 5
             The Globe Theatre
             The King’s Men
             Chapter 6
             A HEAD FOR BUSINESS
             Chapter 7
             Chapter 8
             Chapter 9
             LAST YEARS OF LIFE
             PART 2
             Chapter 10
             Chapter 11
             Theatre and Stage in Elizabethan Era
             Costumes, Lights and Sound Effects
             Chapter 12
             Shakespeare’s Plots and Characters
             Critics’ Ranking of Shakespeare’s Plays
             Chapter 13
             Chapter 14
             Reasons for Shakespeare’s Popularity
             Chapter 15
             The First Period
             The Second Period
             The Third Period
             The Fourth Period
             Categorisation of Shakespeare’s Works
             Chapter 16
             Chapter 17
             List of Plays with Probable Date of Writing
             Principal Facts of Shakespeare’s Life 
             Chief Facts of the World during Shakespeare’s Period



Chapter 1




William Shakespeare is also spelled as Shakspere, Shaksper and Shake-spears as spellings in Elizabethan times were liable to change. What is more, the Englishperson of the time bothered little about maintaining biographical information which had nothing to do with either the church or the State. It could also have been possible that his countrymen did not realise his capability and eminence as a leading playwright or maybe they looked down upon mere dramatists. 

      Though recognised as one of literature’s greatest influences, very little is known about William Shakespeare. Whatever is known has been culled from registrar’s records, court records, wills, marriage certificate and his tombstone. The register of Holy Trinity, the parish church in Stratford, records that William Shakespeare’s baptism was done on Wednesday, April 26th, 1564. Since the infants at that time were baptised three days after their birth, it is generally accepted that Shakespeare was born on April 23rd, which happened to be St. George’s Day. 
      Let us look at the picture of the world into which William was born. Queen Elizabeth I had been queen for six years. She was thirty-one-years old with no interest in war. Under “Good Queen Bess”, as Elizabeth was popularly known, England grew more and more prosperous. 
      Artists in Europe, especially in Italy, were creating some of the most beautiful paintings and sculptures the world had ever seen. The printing press, invented in the 1400s, had made many more books available. Earlier the books had to be copied by hand. More and more people had taken to learning to read and write. In 1514, Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer, first wrote that the sun was the centre of the universe. Prior to that people believed that the Earth was the centre around which the sun and other planets circled. It was also the time of discovery of new places and ideas. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, set out to sail all around the world. The trip took him three years. 
Parents and Siblings
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, which had only eight or nine streets and fewer than 1,500 inhabitants. It was a market town, where the local farmers could bring their crops, animals and other goods to sell. William was the third child of John and Mary Shakespeare, who had eight children in all. The first two were daughters, Joan (1558-1635) and Margaret (1562-1563), before William. Joan married a local hatter named Hart and lived to be seventy-seven. Gilbert (1566-1612) was born after William who became a successful haberdasher. Then came another daughter, also named Joan (1569-1646), who was followed by Anne (1571-1579), Richard (1574-1613) and Edmund (1580-1607). Edmund became an actor in London but how successful he was is not known as he died at the age of twenty-seven. He is buried in Southwark Cathedral, the only one of the eight siblings not to rest at Holy Trinity in Stratford.
      William’s eldest living sister, Joan, outlived her famous playwright brother. Thus out of his seven siblings, only one sister and four of his brothers survived to reach adulthood.
      The Shakespeare family enjoyed considerable local prominence. William’s father, John, is often said to have been illiterate. Illiteracy was the usual condition in the 16th-century England, because according to one estimate, at least 70 per cent of men and 90 per cent of women of the period couldn’t even pronounce their names. Literary or not, John was a popular and respected fellow. In 1556, he took up the first of the many municipal positions when he was elected borough-ale taster. Two years later he became a constable—a position that, as now, argued for some physical strength and courage. The next year he became an “affeeror”, one who assessed fines for matters not handled by existing statutes. By 1560, he was one of the fourteen burgesses which constituted the town council. In 1565, John became an alderman and three years later, he was elected bailiff (mayor), the highest civic honour that a Stratford resident could achieve. His authority was symbolised by an ornamental staff called a mace. This was carried before him in processions by an officer, called a sergeant-at-mace. This was in 1568 by when he had become a local businessman, who dabbled in tanning, leather work and whittawering (a process in which white or soft leather is tanned to make items like purses and gloves). He also dealt in grain and was often described as a glover by trade. 
      John was eligible for a coat of arms and applied to the College of Heralds for one, but his worsening financial status prevented him from obtaining it. It is said that later he held several other civic posts but in 1576, something severely unpleasant seems to have taken place in his business life, possibly participation in black market of wool. When his son, William, was twelve-years old, he abruptly withdrew from public affairs and stopped attending meetings.


[Illustrated Biography of William Shakespeare, Jacob Fernandes, General Press, 9788180320941]