William Shakespeare - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Stories about William Shakespeare

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Picture of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
(1564 - 1616)

Category:  English Literature
Born: 1564
Stratford-On-Avon, England
Died: 1616
Stratford, England
Related authors:
Andrew Carnegie, Christopher Marlowe, Francis Beaumont, Francois Rabelais, Iris Murdoch, James Robertes, John Fletcher, Katherine Anne Porter, Miguel De Cervantes, Robert Greene, Sir Philip Sidney
list all writers
William Shakespeare - LIFE STORIES
2/7/1601     Essex Loses Head Over Richard II
On this day in 1601, Shakespeare's Richard II was presented at the Globe playhouse, a performance especially arranged by those hoping to overthrow Queen Elizabeth the following day. Followers of the Earl of Essex hoped the story of king-killing might stir up support; overcoming the actors' objections that it would not be a good draw, they paid forty shillings to have it staged. If the Saturday afternoon performance was poorly-attended, the Sunday morning rebellion was worse. . . .
4/23/1616     Shakespeare, Cervantes & World Book Day
On this day in 1616 both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died, and this is also the generally accepted day of Shakespeare's birth in 1564. This alignment of the literary stars requires some calendar juggling - a mathematical adjustment to bring Spain's Gregorian calendar in line with Elizabethan England's Julian calendar - but it has prompted UNESCO to declare today "World Book and Copyright Day."
5/2/1594     Shakespeare & Shrews
On this day in 1594, Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew was entered in the Stationers' Register. Much of the main plot seems to come from a 1550 popular ballad called "Here Begynneth a Merry Jest of a Shrewde and Curste Wyfe, Lapped in Morrelles Skin, for her Good Behaviour." By the endeth, this contribution to the shrew-taming canon was merry from only one perspective. . . .
6/29/1613     As The Globe Burns    read it now!
On this day in 1613 The Globe playhouse, of which Shakespeare was part-owner, burned down, the fire ignited by cannon sparks during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry the Eighth. Today's Globe was reconstructed 200 yards from the 1613 Globe, and is as close in design and materials as scholars and building codes could manage - though some want it re-reconstructed based on new research.
7/26/1602     Hamlet -- Borrowed, Crawled and Pythoned
On this day in 1602 printer James Robertes entered in the Stationers' Register, "A booke called the Revenge of Hamlett Prince Denmarke as yt was latelie Acted by the Lord Chamberleyne his servants." Sources for Shakespeare's plot go back to an 11th century text entitled "Amleth"; going the other way, one web site lists 150 book titles based on lines from the "To be or not to be" soliloquy.
8/30/1930     Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Mehitabel
On this day in 30 BC Cleopatra committed suicide. Death by self-inflicted asp was no whim: Cleopatra's search for a painless exit caused more than one unfortunate to be experimentally force-fed this or that drug or snake. The dress-rehearsing done, came the final act: "Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have / Immortal longings in me. . . ."
9/5/1607     Hamlet in Africa
On this day in 1607, Shakespeare's Hamlet was performed on board the merchant ship, "Red Dragon," anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone; scholars regard this amateur production by the ship's crew as the first staging of a Shakespearean play outside of Europe, and one which predates any New World Hamlet by about 150 years.
9/20/1592     Greene, Shakespeare, "Cony-Catching"
On this day in 1592 Robert Greene's A Groats-Worth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance, in which appears the first printed reference to Shakespeare, was entered in the Stationers' Register. Greene's warning to his fellow playwrights of "an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers" is interpreted as jealousy of Shakespeare's rising star, or even as a charge of plagiarism.
9/26/1957     East & West Side Story
On this day in 1957 West Side Story opened at Broadway's Winter Garden Theater for a run of 732 performances. Jerome Robbins first saw his modern Romeo and Juliet as a Jewish-Catholic conflict fought on New York City's east side; when the switch was made to Puerto Rican-"American" and the west side, Leonard Bernstein said he started to "hear rhythms and pulses" and "feel the form."
11/8/1602     Shakespeare, Potter & the Bodleian
On this day in 1602 the refurbished Bodleian Library at Oxford University was officially opened to the public. Sir Thomas Bodley, a wealthy retired diplomat, made it his cause to restore what had been in ruin for a half-century, spending four years and his own and his friends' money to repair buildings and fill bookshelves. Sir Francis Bacon praised Bodley for "having built an ark to save learning from the deluge," though not all books -- including Shakespeare's -- were welcome aboard.
11/24/1947     Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Pearls
On this day in 1947, John Steinbeck's The Pearl was published. Although he could have taken the all-that-glitters-is-not-gold theme from his own troubles with fame and fortune, Steinbeck's source was a Mexican folk tale. It could as easily have been the Bible, or Shakespeare's Othello, who "loved not wisely but too well," and "Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away / Richer than all his tribe."
11/28/1582     Shakespeare in Trouble
On this day in 1582 William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway married, or perhaps just paid for a bond giving them the right to do so. The facts are scanty, but we know that the groom was eighteen years old, the bride was twenty-six, and their first child, Susanna, was baptized six months later. There seems no way of knowing, but more than one biographer thinks that all this adds up to Shakespeare in Trouble rather than Shakespeare in Love.
12/26/1936     Luce's Women
On this day in 1936 Clare Boothe Luce's The Women opened on Broadway, the first of its record-breaking 657 performances. Many reviewers were appalled at Luce's "best-bred hellcats and social filth mongers," but the play brought first-fame to Luce, and opportunities which her beauty, considerable ambition and adequate talent would not waste.
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Anthony and Cleopatra
Henry VI
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare, David Bevington (Editor)
anthology, drama, poetry
The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works
by William Shakespeare, Howard Staunton (Editor)
anthology, drama
The Tragedy of Richard the Second
by William Shakespeare, Frances E. Dolan (Editor)
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A Shakespeare Glossary
by Charles T. Onions
Robert, Earl of Essex
by Robert Lacey
Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary, Volume 1 (A-M)
by Alexander Schmidt
Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary, Volume 2 (N-Z)
by Alexander Schmidt
The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare
by Michael Dobson (Editor), Stanley Wells (Editor)
William Shakespeare & Robert Greene: The Evidence
by William Hall Chapman
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 - Shakespeare Resource Center
Offers a biography, brief synopses of the major dramatic works, and information about the authorship debate, the Globe Theatre, and Elizabethan England. A useful resource for students and teachers.
Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet
Extensive collection of annotated resources, with an emphasis on scholastic materials. Includes links to biographies, bibliographies, life timelines, genealogical charts, electronic texts, teaching guides and activities for students, and literary criticism and analysis.
Shakespeare Illustrated
Richard Altick calculates in Paintings from Books that "pictures from Shakespeare accounted for about one fifth -- some 2,300 -- of the total number of [British] literary paintings recorded between 1760 and 1900." This website "explores nineteenth-century paintings, criticism and productions of Shakespeare's plays and their influences on one another."
Shakespeare's Will
Offers a transcript of the will, quicktime video, and explanatory materials. Presented by the National Archives in the UK.
Study Guide: Romeo and Juliet
This useful resource for students offers comments and questions for consideration and classroom discussion for each act in the play.

"Shakespeare wrote almost no original plots. He used an English poetic retelling of an old Italian tale: Arthur Brooke's The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet. Despite its Italian setting, the language, attitudes, and customs are generally English. In one respect, Shakespeare altered the story in a way which is shocking to modern audiences: he lowered Juliet's age from sixteen to just under fourteen. There are several reasons he might have done so. Boys played the female roles in Shakespeare's theater, and they might have been more convincing as young girls than as more mature women (though audiences presumably found a boy playing Cleopatra or Lady Macbeth satisfactory). Shakespeare emphasizes the over-hastiness and premature nature of this love affair and probably felt he was underlining this theme at a time when marriage at fifteen was considered by no means shocking, though marriage at eighteen or twenty was in fact much more common. Shakespeare was notoriously inept at depicting children in his plays and he may not have had a really clear idea of what a fourteen-year-old girl would be like. Finally, the fact that the story is Italian may have fitted in with Northern European prejudices about hot-blooded early-maturing Southerners. However we imagine her, Juliet is given some of the most brilliant and memorable lines in the play, and is notable for her courage and wit."
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Electronic texts of Shakespeare's comedies, historical plays, and tragedies.
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March 18, 2018
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