Saturday, November 3, 2007


Just in case you're massively confused...why on earth does Molly from Ashcan Rantings have a Shakespeare blog?...this was a school project that I keep getting scared to delete because, well, what if all of a sudden I get another project to make a Shakespeare blog? I'm set, right?
So learn to love the Shakespeare blog for awhile!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Hello, I'm William Shakespeare, playwright extraordinaire and I'm here to teach you!


Birthdate unknown, but probably April 23rd, 1564

Baptized April 26th, 1564

Parents were John Shakespeare, a successful alderman and Mary Arden

Married at eighteen to twenty-six year old Anne Hathaway

In 1583, our first child, Susanna, was born

In 1585, Anne gave birth again to twins named Hamnet and Judith

In 1596, Hamnet died from the bubonic plague

In 1616, I died on what was likely his 66th birthday

Was survived by my wife Anne and daughters Susanna and Judith

Though both Susanna and Judith married and had children, there are no living relatives of my family today

My first granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall, daughter of John and Susanna Hall


A scene from an Elizabethan schoolhouse

My parents were illiterate, which is ironic because I later became known as a genius with language. My father was the alderman, which entitled me to a free education. In my days, children aged five to seven went to what was called "Petty School", run by a local housewife. There, we would learn reading and writing, as well as basic manners and how to be a "good Christian". An interesting sidenote: The alphabet in my times was a bit different: it had 24 letters instead of a modern 26. This is because the letters "v" and "u" were the same, as well as the letters "i" and "j". Each had simply different uses.

Schools in my day were quite strict. In the summer, I would go to school from six o'clock in the morning to five o'clock at night! There was a two hour break during the day, though.

I was withdrawn from school at the age of fourteen, which is the common age for boys to leave school. I was needed at home, however, so I didn't continue on to university, as many of my classmates did.

I had bigger and better things in store...


I produced almost all my work between 1589 and 1613. In all, I've written about 38 plays and 154 sonnets. My first play was Henry VI and my last was The Two Noble Kinsmen. My plays fall into four different categories: comedies, tragedies, histories and "problem plays". Tragedies end with death, comedies end with marriage, histories tell the true story of real people (typically kings) but "problem plays" are less formulaic. "Problem plays" are what now would be considered "dark comedy". They typically dealt with social problems of the time and though in the end, the characters' main problems had been solved, deeper issues were purposely left unresolved. You probably know me best for my tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth are my most famous plays, though I was also quite funny, producing comedies like A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelth Night and As You Like It. I am often considered the greatest writer of all time!


Romeo and Juliet

A Midsummer Night's Dream


Since my death in 1616, many have questioned my sexuality, religion and even whether I was actually the writer of some of my works. Preposterous!
The mysterious Fair Lord
Even though I was married to Anne Hathaway for over thirty years, a series of sonnets addressed to a mysterious "Fair Lord" raised suspicions that I might be bisexual. Some people claim they are simply poems of a deep friendship, while C.S. Lewis spoke for many when he argued that they were "too lover-like for ordinary male friendship".

While I was alive, Catholic practices were illegal. Both my parents were Catholic and my daughter Susanna was believed to be as well. My religious status, however, remains uncertain. It was likely that I, too, was Catholic though people have suggested I might have been atheist, as was the fashion among Elizabethan cultural society.

In the late 18th century, suspicions were raised as to whether or not I was actually the author of a number of plays attributed to me. A number of playwrights have been proposed as the possible actual authors including:
-Francis Bacon
-Christopher Marlowe
-Edward de Vere
These claims are generally dismissed, though it is believed possible that I collaborated with other authors on some of my plays, a common practice at the time.

These "conspiracy theories" are not surprising for a man of my stature though it's unlikely that they have much credibility.