Presentation on theme: " William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a."— Presentation transcript:
William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts.
With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.
Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from academics to eccentrics. Imitating the style of his famous lectures, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunker-like basement room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed.
Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air," "foregone conclusion," "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency.
His Shakespeare is like no one else's—the recipient of Bryson's friendly nature, his engaging disbelief, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.
What is theme? What is the theme of this excerpt from As You Like It?
1. Infancy: In this stage he is a helpless baby and knows little. 2. Childhood: It is that stage of life that he begins to go to school. He is unwilling to leave the protected environment of his home as he is still not confident enough to exercise his own discretion. 3. The lover: In this stage he is always remorseful due to some reason or other, especially the loss of love. He tries to express feelings through song or some other cultural activity. 4. The soldier: It is in this age that he thinks less of himself and begins to think more of others. He is very easily aroused and is hot headed. He is always working towards making a reputation for himself and gaining recognition, however short-lived it may be, even at the cost of his own life. 5. The justice: In this stage he has acquired wisdom through the many experiences he has had in life. He has reached a stage where he has gained prosperity and social status. He becomes very attentive of his looks and begins to enjoy the finer things of life. 6. Pantaloon: He begins to lose his charm — both physical and mental. He begins to become object of others’ jokes. He loses his firmness and assertiveness, and shrinks in stature and personality. 7. Childishness: He loses his status and he becomes a non-entity. He becomes dependent on others like a child and is in need of constant support before finally dying.
Images: Chandros portrait was found in an estate auction and most believed to be Shakespeare, but does not have any documentation to prove, so it could be someone completely different Droshout engraving: was probably a distorted image of SP and was done 7 years after his death. Holy Trinity Church statue: painted over and lost features, so not a great depiction either.
Records: Scarce records were kept during this time period. Only 100 documents have been found about his family. Only 14 words are believed to be written in his own hand. The variants in letter formations, spellings, and pronunciations make it difficult to decipher through the records.
Charles and Hulda Wallace moved from USA to England to spend their lives researching information about SP. Discovered the Belott-Mountjoy papers ~ a court case involving a dispute b/t a wigmaker and his son-in-law about a marriage settlement. SP had to provide testimony in this case. Provided the best WP signature and a valid address. Also the only known document to contain a transcript speaking in his own voice.
The Wallaces also found information about his financial records for The Globe and Blackfriar theaters. Interesting to note that Charles Wallace increasingly became a little crazy, talking about himself in 3 rd person and becoming paranoid, causing ppl to take him less seriously. They moved back to Texas and invested in land, which contained a large amount of oil, and became rich!
Only have three ways to report information: By thorough research like the Wallace’s By speculation based on his works Or persuade themselves that they know more than they really do. Most important to remember is that there is NOTHING concrete that gives us insight into SP’s feelings, thoughts, or beliefs as a man. The only thing we have are the works that have come from him.
We also know surprisingly less about other authors and their works during that time period as well. We are lucky to have SP’s works, bound in the First Folio, a collection of his work, done by Henry Condell and John Heminges. Only 230 text from plays during that time still exist, with 38 or 15% being from SP himself.
What we do know: His works contain: Over 138K commas 26K semicolons 15K ? Marks Love references: 2,259 Hate references: 183 Damned: 105 times Bloody: 226 times Total Word Count: 884,647 NOT SO MUCH A HISTORICAL FIGURE, BUT AN ACADEMIC OBSESSION.
The plagues: Also called “Black Death,” the Bubonic Plagues took almost a ¼ of London’s citizens. Other health problems also threatened ppl’s lives, as healthcare was scarce, especially in rural areas. SP’s greatest achievement in life = surviving his 1 st year.
Not certain, but traditionally celebrated on April 23 rd, St. George’s Day (The National Day of England). Also believed to be the day he died. Baptized on April 26 th. Record keeping was sparse at this time in Stratford as well. Although none of this is certain b/c of the discrepancies in calendars at that time.
16 th century: England changed from Catholic society to a Protestant one, based on the changes in the monarchy. Edward Vi: Protestant Mary Tudor (Elizabeth’s ½ sister): Catholic Elizabeth: Return to Protestantism Under Mary, many burned at the stake for refusal to convert. Under Elizabeth’s reign (45 years), less than 200 Catholics were executed vs. 1000’s elsewhere in Europe.
Took England when she was 25 years old. Reigned for 45 years. Catholics believed she was an outlaw: Her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots was Catholic and would be next in line to the throne. Elizabeth was guarded closely to protect her life. Issue of succession was huge during her reign, as well through the majority of SP’s life. ¼ of SP’s plays contain issues of succession, which his audience would relate to well. Actually speculating about the successor, however, was against the law.
Fairly relaxed Protestant. Favored many customary Catholic traditions. She was not as concerned about loyalty to religion, but more so with loyalty to herself. BEING Catholic wasn’t particularly troublesome in Elizabethan England, but being PUBLICLY Catholic was.
Catholics who didn’t attend Anglican services paid a fine. Known as “recusants,” meaning “refusing” In 1581, fines were only 12 pence/month Raised to 20/month Provided a lucrative source of income for the crown. Most ppl were “church Papists” ~ supporting whichever religion was needed based on the circumstances.
1585-1592 London in the 16 th century was both deadly and desirable. Plague occurred every 10 years ~ each time the death toll reached 40, all public gatherings were banned within 7 miles of London. Even though there were many deaths, the influx of merchants and refugees kept the city growing, making London one of the largest cities in Europe
Overwhelmingly a youthful place, as most ppl didn’t live past age 35 City divided into parishes with a church in each one London itself was surrounded by slums Westminster was the seat of government The largest and busiest palace in Europe Headquartered the Engish monarch
City Life: Narrow streets, close houses, rich and poor lived close together Gates were locked at dusk, with curfew at dark London Bridge: Went over the Thames River, which stretched 1,000 feet wide in some places Bridge was a respectable place, had more than a hundred shops, considered the cleanest place in the city, and became an outpost of wealthy merchants. The Southwark end of the bridge displayed heads of the most serious criminals on poles
St. Paul’s Cathedral: Stood in an open square covering 12 acres Filled with stalls of booksellers, marketers, etc. Inside: noisier and more public. Merchants used it to sell their stuff drunks were passed out, relieving themselves in corners, Some built small fires to keep warm boys played ball, etc. Used as a cut-through for staying out of the weather
Fashion: Starch was introduced and used to make exotic ruffles, pleats, gowns, etc. Skin: rich women bleached their skin to look paler, a sign of supreme loveliness. Diet: Rich people dined on foods uneaten today, like crane, swan, and stork. Poorer ppl ate mainly dark bread and cheese and vegetables. Tea and coffee were unknown, but all ppl enjoyed sweets ~ using sugar so much that their teeth turned black (or they colored them black to fit in) Drinks: Common to consume over a gallon of beer a day (dark english ale) and the wealthier also got wine. Tobacco: used for pleasure and as a treatment for all kinds of different stuff, including venereal disease, migraine, bad breath, and the plague
Crime: very widespread. All different types of specializations, including: Coney catchers Pickpockets Cutpurses Hookers Abtams whipjacks fingerers, etc. Brawls were so common that even poets carried arms.
Unknown when Shakespeare first came to London Disappears from 1585 to 1592, when he left Stratford and his family to become a playwright Suggestions: He was a schoolmaster in the country Traveling in Italy As a soldier in Flanders Going to sea
Most believed: went to Northern England as a Catholic recusant, as a tutor and actor. Was he Catholic? During this time, there was a vast, underground network of underground Catholic conversions A “William Shakeshafte” was listed listed in the household accounts of a prominent Catholic family But Shakeshafte was a common name at the time, and it could have been anyone Also during this time is when he would have married and had his first child in Stratford, so why would he have been in Lancashire, hiding out as a Catholic?
Spanish Armada: 1586, Mary Queen of Scots was found guilty for plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth, so she was killed. The following spring, Spain tried to retailiate by capturing the English throne and replacing Elizabeth. Spain expected a confident victory, but England prevailed, in three short weeks. Changed history Induced a rush of patriotism for England, giving them confidence to form USA Secured Protestantism for England.
Three different depictions of the Globe Theater exist: 1596: Sketch of the “Swan” theater by Dutch tourist Johannes de Witt, housed in the library of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, believed to be the inspiration for the Gloe 1626: Artist Claes Jan Visscher ~ famous engraved panorama of London, showing the theaters in the foreground, he may have never been to London, but based the engraving on another. 1630’s Wenceslas Hollar drew the “Long View,” depicting the second Globe Theater from a view above, but offers little details.
Know very little about theater by writing either ~ mostly from letters written by London tourists. Philip Henslowe ~ owner of the Rose and Fortune theaters. Kept meticulous records in his “diary,” helping us to understand more about theater life and providing ‘specs’ when rebuilding the Globe. Theaters as entertainment were a new phenomenon in England, with the Red Lion, the Theatre, and the Curtain Theatre.
Theaters had to live outside of London’s walls, along with brothels, prisons, gunpowder stores, unconsecrated graveyards, lunatic asylums, and smelly or noisy enterprises, like soapmaking, dyeing, and tanning. Theaters also housed other forms of entertainment, including animal baiting. Puritans hated the theaters, even blaming a rare earthquake on them.
Puritans considered them an ideal place for prostitution, shady characters, infectious diseases, a distraction from worship, sodomy, and a source of unhealthy sexual excitement. ( Bryson notes that the Puritans would rather move to the New World than become tolerant of London life!) Queen Elizabeth refused to limit theater life, even on Sundays, as they received heavy revenues from taxation.
But, plays were strictly regulated. All plays were licensed and made to perform respectful and orderly. Could be jailed and punished. Plays were performed at about 2:00 in the afternoon. General admission for the groundlings was a penny. Sitting = 2 pennies Cushion = 3 pennies (a day’s wages = 1 shilling)
Concessions were available but toilets were not. Little scenery and no curtain, no way to distinguish day/night, fog, etc. except through words. Costumes were elaborate and much valued Used sheep’s blood, organs, etc. and sometimes artificial limbs were used. Almost all ended in a “jig”
More natural acting styles and settings. Plays were of varying lengths (Hamlet nearly 4 hours) Challenge of using boys to play women parts Other countries used women in plays Golden Age of theater lasted @ 75 years, but attracted over 50 million customers (10x the country’s population). Most performed at least 5 different plays a week, rotating throughout the year.
Playwrights made very little $$, and plays belonged to the company, not the playwright. Many actors had to double up parts, performing multiple parts in each play Rigorous contractual obligations, with penalties for missing, tardiness, drunkenness, not being in costume, or wearing costumes outside of the play. Shakespeare was listed as an actor in 1592, 1603, and 1608.
Some believe SP’s first performed work was Henry VI, but it’s not for certain. First official mention of him is in a note in a pamphlet by Robert Greene, who was jealous of Shakespeare Then the theaters had to close b/c of a Plague outbreak, and then SP disappears for two more years. Where was he? Traveling in Italy?
SP made a flowing dedication to Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton, who was considered to be bi-sexual, in two of his works. Unknown whether SP was courting him personally or for his patronage to his plays. By 1594, SP was a success, authoring two poems and having the patronage of a leading aristocrat. But, he returned exclusively to theater from then on out.
Christopher Marlowe: SP’s greatest competitor Son of a shoemaker in Canterbury Went to Cambridge (on scholarship), had elevated status The government went on a witch-hunt to find the source of anti-immigrant notices in London. Under torture, Marlowe’s roommate accused him of being a blasphemer and atheist, very serious charges. Marlowe was brought before the Privy Council, questioned and released on bond.
Christopher Marlowe: Best scenario: getting ears cut off Later, involved in a brawl and was stabbed in the forehead, being killed outright, and was dead at 29. At that time, Marlowe was considered the better writer, but too quickly violent and erratic in temperament. More likely, SP was more promising for long-term success. SP had no serious rivals again until Ben Jonson came along in 1598
Eventually, the plague was too much to bear, so many companies disbanded. 1594, only two troups remained: The Admiral’s Men and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men SP spent the rest of his life working with this troupe Most members led clean lives, behaving like business and family men.
No one knows which of SP’s plays were performed first ~ 8 different works are cited. Some base their conclusions on the events going on in England during that time period, some believe the style of writing tells the order of composition, but no one really knows. Book by Francis Meres “Paladis Tamia: Wit’s Treasury” was published in 1598 and mentions SP’s works and provides the first published mention of four of SP’s plays.
SP’s plays were known by other names: Twelfth Night = Malvolio Much Ado About Nothing = Benedick and Beatrice Some believed Love’s Labour Won was an alternative for Taming of the Shrew, but in 1953, it as discovered that these two plays both existed together, but Love’s Labour was not included in the First Folio
By 1598, he was a notable playwright with a successful reputation. Known to steal plots, dialogue, names, titles, etc. “SP was a wonderful teller of stories as long as someone else had told them first.” ~ Bernard Shaw Very common of writers at that time. He was known of taking common work and embellishing them to make them more memorable
Rules of presentation were stretched in order to get plays out to the audiences. For example: tragedies were not supposed to contain any humor, no soliquys or asides, etc. SP’s genius was that he created comedic relief, and audience interaction, things that make him “SHAKESPEARE” to us today. Most were rigid in conforming to Aristotle’s three principles of dramatic presentation ~ dramas should take place in one day, in one place, and have one plot. Most of SP’s greatest works abandon this form (ex: Macbeth)
SP was considered to be very controversial at the time: he killed off title characters in the middle of the play (Julius Ceasar), having main characters speak almost 1,500 lines (Hamlet), and teasing reality by addressing the audience. SP wasn’t the most prolific writer (not that many plays written as other playwrights) Plays contained unclear references and very subject to interpretation, and lack punctuation, correct grammar, spelling
Some believe he was as knowledgeable as any lawyer, doctor, statesman, astronomer, etc. More likely, he was just average. Knew some French, more Italian, and showed interest in medicine, law, military affairs, and natural history. Guilty of Anatopisms: getting geography wrong and Anachronisms: errors in timeframe.
SP’s genius has less to do with facts and more about things of life: ambition, intrigue, love, suffering, etc. Size of vocabulary: he may not have had that extensive of a vocabulary, but what he did with them was history changing. “It is often said that what sets SP apart is his ability to illuminate the workings of the soul and so on, and he does that superbly, goodness knows, but what he really characterizes his work – every bit of it, in poems and plays and even dedications ~ is a positive and palpable appreciation of the transfixing power of language.” (pg. 110)
12,000 words entered the English language in the 16 th century (about ½ are still in use today). Grammar, pronunciation, and spelling were fluent and variable. Some turns are “lost in translation” through the centuries Other playwrights used crude terms (I fart on Thee), but SP was very clean. SP’s language was considered modern
He coined 2,035 words from the beginning of his career. Ex: Hamlet contained 600 words that the audience would have never heard before. About 800 are still used today “SP’s language has a quality, difficult to define, of memorability that has caused many phrases to enter the common language.” Stanley Wells Oxford Dictionary of Quotations states SP produced 1/10 of all the most quotable phrases written or spoken in English since its inception.
Latin was still the common language of the day. “It is telling,” observes Stanley Wells, “that William Shakespeare’s birth is recorded in Latin but that he dies in English, as ‘William Shakespeare, gentleman.’”
While the 16 th century is known as “The Golden Years,” not everyone thought of them that way. Plague, wars, famine, etc. had taken a toll on the economy 1597 ~ known as “the worst year in history” How did The Theater thrive during this time? SP’s own personal tragedy: 1596, his son, Hamnet, died of unknown causes in Stratford Professionally: Increasing fame and professional good fortune
SP must have been quite well-off during this time, buying a new home in Stratford and applying for a “coat of arms” for his family. Most of his income came from his shares in the theatrical company. No matter how well off, he continued to be cheap, being convicted in London for evading taxes two years in a row. Still spent a good amount of time in Stratford as well, keeping financial records there.
His highest wealth = uncertainty for his theater company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. 1597 James Burbage died at the age of 67. He was one of the principal investors of the company. His son tried to renew the Theater lease, but couldn’t get anywhere with the landlord, so on Dec. 28 th, 1598, The Lord Chamberlain’s men began to dismantle the Theatre and convey it across the Thames River, where they reerected it overnight (allegedly)
It actually took more than one night (probably more like 6 months) Called “The New Globe” Sometimes referred to as a theatre built by actors for actors Built exclusively for plays ~ took no earnings from animal fighting, etc. First mention of “The Globe” comes from a Swiss tourist named Thomas Platter, noting he saw a production of Julius Caesar at The Globe
Outshone it’s competitor, The Rose, which was “dank” and “uncomfortable” which was owned by The Admiral’s Men. They moved and built The Fortune Theatre, which was even bigger than The Globe. Burned down in 1621. Globe burned down in 1613, but “had seen more glory in only a decade than the Globe during its first manifestation. For SP this period marked a burst of creative brilliance unparalleled in English literature.
Even though he had continued success in London, his private life indicated a longing for Stratford. First he bought New Place, followed by a cottage and a plot of land to house a servant. Then he bought 107 acres of farmland, and then he invested in tithes of corn, grain, blade, and hay in three neighboring villages.
Early winter 1601, SP was involved in an attempt to overthrow the queen. The Queen was furious with the Earl of Essex for offering a truce with Irish insurgents and returning to England against orders. She placed him under strict house arrest, unable to see his wife or kids, work, etc. for ½ year. He approached SP’s company to do Richard II, including a scene involving a monarch being murdered This was scandalous b/c plays at that time were mirrors reflecting present conditions Seen as intentional and very provocative
They performed the play and the next day the Earl of Essex and 300 men planned to arrest the queen, replacing her with James VI of Scotland. No one supported him, so there was no mob behind them, and no hope for victory. Eventually, Essex was arrested and The Lord Chamberlain’s Men were cleared of charges of conspiracy. He was beheaded and the troupe was summoned to perform another play for the Queen.
By 1603, Queen Elizabeth had become a little too odd. Her face was permanently caked in white makeup, her teeth were blackened or missing, and she continuously left her dress unbuttoned, exposing herself to everyone. After SP’s troupe performed for her, Queen E died on March 24 at age 69. She was succeeded by King James (son of Mary, Queen of Scots) In Scotland, he was James VI, but in England, he was James I. He was devotedly Protestant.
King James was awkward, walked with a limp, wore raggedy clothes, and was more than a little odd. He may have had relationships with men, but also had 8 kids with his wife, King Anne. He was a great patron of the theater as well. He renamed SP’s troupe from “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men” to “The King’s Men” ~ the highest honor given to an acting troupe
SP’s greatest output was not during the Elizabethan period, but was really during the “Jacobean” period, under King James. Othello King Lear Macbeth Antony and Cleopatra Coriolanus Timon of Athens
King James presided over the production of “The King James Bible” It took a panel of hierarchs seven years from 1604 to 1611 to complete King James took a leading interest in the creation Helped an influential role in encouraging a conformity of spelling and grammar in England and the new America
By the reign of King James, very few Britians were Catholic. (only @ 2% of the population) In 1604, King James suspended recusancy laws and allowed Mass to be said in private homes. The Powder Treason: A scheme was made when a group of Catholics delivered 36 barrels of gunpowder (10,000 lbs) in the cellar of the Palace The monarchy was alerted and Catholics were punished. Barred from key professions Not permitted to travel more than 5 miles from home Had to wear big hats to be easily identified Recusancy fines were reinstated Catholics were no longer a threat, but the Puritans would be.
SP was increasingly wealthy but lived very frugally, tax records showing his personal property was less than 5 pounds Charles and Hulda Wallace discovered that SP was living with Christopher Mountjoy during this time Stanley Wells believes that SP might have returned to Stratford during this time to write as well. Not much known about SP personally from 1603 to 1608, except his brother and then his mother both died.
During that year, The King’s Men opened the Blackfriars Theater, which became the template for all the other indoor theaters, making it more important than The Globe. Only held 600 ppl but more profitable than the Globe b/c the cost of admission was high SP owned 1/6 interest of that theater. Candlelight was used Audience could pay extra to sit on the stage, allowing them to show off their luxurious threads Blackfriar caused The Globe to close for winter.
Sonnets: On May 20 th, 1609 Thomas Thorpe published and sold “Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Never Before Imprinted” We know nothing about the sonnets: where they were written, who they were written for, etc. Contain some of his most celebrated lines “Shall I compare Thee to a summer’s day” Unusual b/c they were actually written for a man! Not very popular until centuries later
Sonnets are divided into two parts: 1-126 addresses a young man (or even men) 127-154 addresses a “dark lady” who cheated on him with that guy above Sonnets were normally full of love, but these are focused on self-hate and bitterness Many were erotic, which were controversial bc homosexuality wasn’t approved of at the time
Don’t know when the sonnets were actually written, but were used in Love’s Labour and Romeo and Juliet, so somewhere @ 1590’s Don’t know that the first 126 are definitely addressed to the same young man, or if in every situation, it is a man at all. Also don’t know the identity of the “dark woman” Most just connect them because of the way they are numbered, but that doesn’t prove anything
Shakespeare’s preference for men, women, or both has caused much trouble and discomfort in the literary world. One editor of the sonnets made all of the masculine pronouns feminine Stanley Wells, “If Shakespeare did not, in the fullest sense of the word, love a man, he certainly understood the feelings of those who do.”
In later years, SP was known to collaborate with other playwrights in several of his works. Stanley Wells, “SP became a different kind of writer as he got older, still brilliant but more challenging. His language became more dense and elliptical. He became less inclined to consider the needs of the traditional audience. The plays became less theatrical and more introverted. He was perhaps out of fashion in his last years.”
Probably didn’t write anything after the Globe burned down in 1613, but did make trips to London. Bought an investment house in Blackfriars for 140 pounds. Asked three colleagues to be trustees, keeping it from going to his wife, Anne, upon his death. Why would he do this? It’s anyone’s guess!
March 1616 ~ SP made some changes to his will. He asked for 5 witnesses instead of the usual 2. Scandal: His daughter Judith married a guy named Thomas Quiney. She was 31 years old (OLD MAID!) One month later, he was fined 5 shillings for “unlawful fornification” with a Margaret Wheeler, who died giving birth to HIS child.
April 17 th, his brother in law died. Six days later, SP himself died. His will is in a special locked room at Britain's National Archives. Has three different signatures. Left 350 pounds in cash, 4 houses and their contents and a good deal of land ~ worth about 1,000 pounds all together. To his wife, he left “his second-best bed with the furniture” (bedclothes) Some argue that the “2 nd best bed” was the marital bed but it’s never been left in a will that way. Nothing else was left to her explicitly.
His wife died in 1623. Two daughters lived on but no one thought to talk with them to find out information about SP for his biographies. Theaters were even more popular in the years right after his death, but by 1642, the Puritans shut them down, with only 6 remaining. Two close friends, Heminges and Condell, gathered SP’s works and published them in the First Folio. They were also the last of the original ‘Chamberlain’s Men.’
Folio: book where each sheet has been folded just once down the middle, creating two leaves or four pages. Typically about 15 inches high. Published by Edward Blount and William and Isaac Jaggard. Kind of pricey at 1 pound (sonnets only cost 5 pence). First Folio did well and was followed by 2 nd, 3 rd, and 4 th editions.
First Folio seemed to be erratic and contained many errors, even though it was created to be the “best” form of SP’s works. Heminges and Condell are considered the greatest literary heroes of all time. Only about 230 plays from SP’s life survived all together, so about 15% of those are in the First Folio. Plays are categorized as comedies, histories, and tragedies.
Nobody knows how many First Folio’s were printed, but estimated @ 1,000. Most are located in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., named for Henry Clay Folger. Folger was a member of the Folger Coffee family and president of Standard Oil. He began collecting material by and about SP, some of which are very rare and hard to find. He died in 1930 before the library was built. Library consists of 350k books and other items, but the core is the First Folios.
At the time of SP’s death, he was NOT considered one of “the” great english playwrights. After his death, some of his plays weren’t performed again for a long time. Poems too went out of fashion for a long time. Almost a century passed between his death and an attempted first biography
Critical appreciation of SP begins with William Dodd, a clergyman and scholar of the first rank. He published “Beauties of Shakespeare” in 1752, remaining hugely influential for about 150 years. In early 1770’s, he was convicted of identity theft for receiving 4,200 lbs of $$ from forging a signature and beheaded. (another instance of a Shakespearian scholar being more than a little eccentric!)
1 st “real” SP scholar was Edmond Malone, an Irish barrister Moved to London in 1793 Acquired several important documents, etc. about and of SP’s and contributed much information about the Bard. Found information about his family, etc. Many other SP scholars were known to “forge” or “create” information when it was convenient.
After his death, SP was laid to rest in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His gravestone has no name but has this quote: “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forebear, to digg the dust encloased heare. Bleste be the man that spares thes stones and curst be he that moves my bones.” Buried next to wife and other family, but they are laid to rest in an odd order. Not by order of death and by family relationships. Some important family members are missing, and some other people are included. His grave is also shorter than the others.
Overlooking the family’s site is a life size painted bust of SP with a quill and a staring expression with the message: (pg. 179) Some believe the monument doesn’t contain his body but his manuscripts. There is no evidence to support this.
A large belief that the plays where written by someone else Some believe that the vast amount of information in them could not be contained by just one person. Some believe SP was just the “Jimmy Buffett of theatre ~ quite the entertainer but lacking substance” and that he was covering for someone who, for whatever reason, could not publish their own works.
Bill Bryson believes that all of the anti-SP talk involved manipulation of facts. Bryson states that no one in SP’s lifetime or the 1 st 200 years after his death expressed any doubts about his authorship. Where did this all come from? Delia Bacon, an american woman born in 1811 in Ohio. She lived in conneticut as a spinster and teacher. She was convinced that Francis Bacon, whom she was named after, was the true author of SP.
(although their names where the same, there was not family connection) 1852 she traveled to London to prove SP was a fraud. She won over many influential ppl including Ralph Waldo Emerson In 1857 she produced a 675 pg. Book devoted to her claims, but was highly disregarded. She returned to America and retreated into insanity, dying in institutional care in 1859, believing she was the Holy Ghost.
Her “Baconian” theory took root with Mark Twain and Henry James becoming prominent supporters. Many believed that his plays contained secret codes that revealed the true author For example, Stratford is never mentioned in the plays, but Bacon’s hometown is mentioned 15 times.
Francis Bacon: Theory took on ‘cultlike’ status Also believed to have written for Marlowe, Kyd, Green, and Lyle, and the King Version of the Bible Some believed he was an illegitimate offspring of Queen Elizabeth and her beloved Leicester.
Objectors to the “Baconian Theory” suggest that he already a full life without also writing all of those works. No connections of Bacon with the theater, as he attacked it as frivolous and lightweight in many of his essays. Other theories: Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere (Oxfordians) Christopher Marlowe That his works were a compilation of several different playwrights all together
Bryson’s last thoughts on SP’s validity: Theories suggest that SP’s upbringing was too simple, but Bryson has proven he was educated, etc. Theories suggest that Stratford isn’t mentioned but Bryson believes that a “Stratford boyhood lurks in all the texts.” He knew about animal hides He refers to the trade of tanning (leather working) He seems an “unashamed country boy”
If it was a conspiracy, it was a truly extraordinary one. It would have required the cooperation of Jonson, Heminges, and Condell, members of his acting company, family and friends. “When we reflect upon the works of William Shakespeare it is of course an amazement to consider that one man could have produced such a sumptuous, wise, varied, thrilling, ever delighting body of work, but that is of course the hallmark of genius. Only one man had the circumstances and gifts to give us such incomparable works, and William Shakespeare of Stratford was unquestionable that man, whoever he was.”