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Shakespeare: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

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Katie Barnshaw

on 17 June 2017

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Transcript of Shakespeare: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

In today's world, it's an extreme rarity for someone to have no prior knowledge of The Bard. Most everyone knows of one of his plays or sonnets, and uses terms coined by the man himself.
(He invented over 1700 of our commonly used words!)
But, how much do you know about the actual man behind literature's greatest love stories, tragedies, comedies and poems?
Shakespeare: The Man, the Myth, the Legend
One can tell a lot about a person from their writing. But, when it comes to Shakespeare, the common knowledge is just
the tip of the iceberg.
Did you know Shakespeare began his career ON the stage?
It is not known exactly how many roles Shakespeare played himself but we do know that Shakespeare had began his career on the stage by 1592, because there is reference to this in Robert Greene's Groatsworth of Wit.
It is probable that Shakespeare played the title role in Edward I (a play by Edward Peele) in 1593. It is also assumed that he played smaller roles in a variety of his own plays, including As You Like It (Adam), Macbeth (King Duncan), Henry IV (King Henry), and Hamlet (Hamlet's father). Shakespeare's first biographer, Nicholas Rowe, referred to a role by William Shakespeare as "the Ghost in his own Hamlet" and that he was "the top of his performance."
William Shakespeare the Actor soon moved on to becoming William Shakespeare the Theatre owner and Playwright!
•William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564
•His parents were John Shakespeare, a glove maker, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowner of Wilmcote.
•William went to school at King's New School in Stratford.
•William Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway in November, 1582, and six months later their daughter, Susanna, was born. Two other children, the twins Hamnet and Judith, were born in February, 1585.
•Sometime after his children were born, Shakespeare went to London to write plays for the Globe Theater.
•Eventually he got a share in the theater and was able to buy and restore New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford for him and his family.
•He semi-retired to live with his family in Stratford in 1610.
•He later died on April 23, 1616, which was, as far as we know, the same day he was born.
Did You Also Know That Many People Do Not Believe Shakespeare is the Author of All That He's Credited For?

The controversial "Father of modern psychology," Sigmund Freud, stated "the man of Stratford seems to have nothing at all to justify his claim, whereas Oxford has almost everything" (Sobran 10).
•It is said that Stratford men were not as able to produce such profound literature such as Shakespeare’s.
•It is through his intellectual ability to write literature and his life meticulously
revealed in Hamlet, that it is possible for de Vere to be “Shakespeare”.
•We know that because deVere was a nobleman, he could not have his name
written upon his writings because he would be considered of a lower class.
•De Vere was forbidden to write plays for the common theater. Such an occupation
was considered an insult to the Queen and beneath his own personal dignity. He
was forced into adopting a pen name which would then hide his identity.
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Evidence Supporting de Vere
•Hamlet is said to be autobiographical, based on de Vere’s life. As a teenager, de Vere endured the tragic loss of his father and the sudden remarriage of his mother. The second husband was also a commoner which angered de Vere.
•Polonius was thought to be a satire of William Cecil Lord Burghley, English prime minister and father-in-law of Edward de Vere. Burghley was a “busy body” and sent spies to keep an eye on de Vere.
•The plays contain a sense of hatred towards some of the noblemen of that time period, which poinst the authorship towards de Vere.
•de Vere spent a lot of his time in Italy and Europe, which could be a connection to Shakespeare’s great detail of Venice and other European cities in his works.
•There is even some evidence that Shakespeare couldn’t write his own name because his father, a glove maker couldn’t sign his name. To sign legal documents, he would simply make an “X”. This stirred up controversy on whether or not Shakespeare was illiterate, like his father.

•"William Shakespeare" has none of the characteristics of a pseudonym; it was the real name of a person closely connected with the production of the plays
•William Shakespeare was an actor in the company which performed the plays of William Shakespeare.
•From 1594 on, the plays of William Shakespeare were performed exclusively by the acting company variously known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men (1594-96, 1597-1603), Lord Hunsdon's Men (1596-97), and the King's Men (1603-42).
•William Shakespeare was included in the will of Augustine Phillips.
•A large number of plays from the period in which Shakespeare wrote typically did not include the authors’ name at all. Generally speaking it had the publisher’s name and the name of the acting companies that performed the plays. Several famous playwrights, including Christopher Marlowe, never had their names published on a play while they were still alive.
•More recent studies have demonstrated that several of Shakespeare’s early works, such as Henry VI, Part I and Titus Andronicus were collaborations.
•Ben Jonson, a rival playwright of Shakespeare’s and close friend, made further mention of Shakespeare, not just as a writer, but also as a friend long after his death. Shakespeare is also known to have acted several of Jonson’s plays.
Support For 'Ole Willy
There's Even a Name for People Who Doubt The Bard:
Oxfordian- one who has reasonable doubt that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the 37 plays, five narrative poems, and 154 sonnets to which the name is credited. Their theory not only supplies plausible arguments to question the authenticity of the works, but also offers a potential proxy known as Edward De Vere.
De Vere is associated with the works due to his extensive excursions throughout Europe and a record revealing him to have secretly written poems and plays. According to Oxfordian theory, De Vere would have the substantial intellect to compose the works.
The Education Factor

A good deal of the Oxfordian theory is attributed to Shakespeare’s education which is coparable to simple grammar school lessons of reading writing, and arithmatic. De Vere, however, would have had extensive tutoring enhanced by his vast travel
The Oxfordian Theory is backed up by the evidence that William’s father could neither read nor write.

Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith could only manage to write an X on her marriage certificate.

Further evidence comes from the few signatures of Shakespeare’s remain only show a poor scrawl.

No informal notes or scrawls were left behind unlike many authors of his day.

The only examples of his handwriting are six practically illegible signatures. No signature is the same as the other. The spelling of the first syllable is “Shak” instead of “Shake.”

Oxfordians also point out that these signatures were in no way related to theatre or poetry.

The first signature is on a deposition he gave regarding a person he knew in London around 1600, two of the signatures were on property documents and three of the signatures are on his will.
Down, But Not Out!
But! Keep in mind that a lot of people take creative license when writing their signatures. Take Picaso for example. Arguably, one of the best artists ever, his signature looked like this:
And, remember that other book we just read? Well, Mr. Dickens was also a fan of the senseless signature. Neither Charles nor Dickens make an appearance. -------->
But Then Again...
Similarities in Edward De Vere’s verse to Shakespeare’s suggest that such a leap in poetry composing was possible. Specifically six-line pentameter stanzas in Venus and Adonis reoccur only in Edward de Vere’s early poems and yet are not repeated by other poets of Shakespeare’s time. Both Joseph Sobran and J. Thomas Looney have noted the close similarities in form between Edward De Vere’s work and that claimed to be Shakespeare's.
At court, Edward De Vere was nicknamed "Spear-shaker" due to of his ability both at tournaments and because his coat of arms featured a lion brandishing a spear. Perhaps coincidentally, Edward De Vere lived in the same area as Shakespeare, his Bilton Hall home being the Avon River and the Forest of Arden on another.
So, What Does All This Mean?!
Well, basically, we're talking about two guys who lived over 400 years ago. There is so little information, about either of them, and what does exist can't be proven. The "evidence" is presumed, and could presumably be wrong.
So the truth is, your guess is about as good as the top historian.
And also, these men are
. They're not here to argue about it, or to stand up for themselves.
So if we're wrong about William Shakespeare being the author of some of the most beloved works of literature, do you think it still matters?

And uh, the rebuttal?
De Vere
died too early
to complete the later plays.

A large problem for Edward De Vere authoring Shakespeare’s work is the fact that he died in 1604. This was before roughly 12 plays ascribed to Shakespeare were composed.

Will Shakespeare, What A Guy.
William Shakespeare is often regarded as the greatest writer of all time.
Regardless of who he was, or wasn't, this looming figure will forever be thought of as the inventor of modern drama. Having written 37 plays and 154 sonnets,
in history was a superbly talented writer, and for all intents and purposes, it doesn't matter much what his actual name is.
But, William Shakespeare is a pretty good one.
Works Cited
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