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Why Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare Paul Franssen Utrecht University.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare Paul Franssen Utrecht University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare Paul Franssen Utrecht University

2 Why Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare 1. paper trail 2. testimonies of contemporaries that WS was an author 3. dating 4. Stratford and Shakespeare’s private life reflected in the works 5. the problem with conspiracy theories

3 1. The paper trail

4 Shakespeare’s baptism

5 Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms 1596

6 The Stratford Grammar School

7 Lost years, 1585 - 1592 Starting his acting career in London? Taking care of the horses outside the theatre? Being a schoolmaster in the country? Working as a lawyer’s apprentice? Visiting the continent, accompanying an aristocratic gentleman, or as a student at a Catholic college?


9 The First Folio, 1623

10 Leonard Digges on Shakespeare’s “Stratford Monument”

11 Shakespeare as a witness

12 2. Witnesses of Shakespeare’s Authorship


14 Records of the Revels Office, 1604-1605

15 Robert Greene, 1592 …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 bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrie.

16 Francis Meres, 1598 …the sweete wittie soule of Ovid lives in mellifluous & honeytongued Shakespeare, witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred Sonnets. … Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage; for Comedy, witness his Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Love labors lost, his Love labours wonne, his Midsummers night dreame,& his Merchant of Venice: for Tragedy his Richard the 2. Richard the 3. Henry 4. King John, Titus Andronicus and his Romeo and Juliet.

17 The Return from Parnassus I, 1598 Gullio: Let this duncified worlde esteeme of Spencer and Chaucer, Ile worship sweet Mr Shakspeare, and to honoure him will lay his Venus and Adonis under my pillowe. (4.1)

18 Gabriel Harvey, 1598-1603 The younger sort takes much delight in Shakespeares Venus, & Adonis: but his Lucrece, & his tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, have it in them, to please the wiser sort.



21 3. Dating the Canon

22 Some dates Death of Oxford: June 1604 Wreck of the Sea Venture: 1609 Pamphlets: late 1610 The Tempest first performed at Court: late 1611 Death of Shakespeare: 1616

23 Some parallels Storm drives apart a fleet of ships, one of which contains the aristocratic leader After the shipwreck, conspiracies among the ordinary sailors. St. Elmo’s fire. “glut” and “bosky”

24 4. Stratford and Shakespeare’s Private Life Possible autobiographical elements in the works

25 Prospero to Ferdinand: If thou dost break [Miranda’s] virgin-knot before All sanctimonious ceremonies may With full and holy rite be ministered, ….barren hate, Sour-eyed disdain, and discord shall bestrew The union of your bed with weeds so loathly That you shall hate it both. (Tempest 4.1.15-22)

26 Duke Orsino to Cesario/Viola: ….. Let still the woman take An elder than herself. So wears she to him; So sways she level in her husband’s heart. (Twelfth Night 2.4.29-30).

27 Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will, And Will to boot, and Will in overplus … sonnet 135

28 Make but my name thy love, and love that still, And then thou lov’st me for my name is Will. Sonnet 136

29 Those lips that Love’s own hand did make, Breathed forth the sound that said “I hate” …………………………………………………..…. “I hate” from hate away she threw, And saved my life, saying “not you.” Sonnet 145

30 What, would you make me mad? Am I not Christopher Sly, old Sly’s son of Burton Heath, by birth a peddler …..? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know me not. Shrew Induction.2.15-18.

31 5. The problem with conspiracy theories

32 The Stratford Monument

33 Part of legend below bust: Stay passenger, why goest thou by so fast? Read if thou canst, whom envious death hath plast, Within this monument Shakspeare: with whome Quick nature dide: whose name doth decke the tombe, Far more then cost: si[t]h all, that he hath writt, Leaves living art, but page, to serve his witt.


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