There Goes the Groom
November 28, 1582: Witnesses post bond guaranteeing no lawful impediments to marriage exist. Eighteen-year-old William Shakespeare and 26-year-old Anne Hathaway were issued a marriage license through the consistory court of the Diocese of Worcester the day before. Two of Anne’s neighbors posted bond and the chancellor allowed the marriage banns to be read only once rather than the customary three times. Six months later, Anne gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, who was baptized on May 26, 1583. Hamnet and Judith, twins born almost two years later, were baptized on February 2, 1585. Hamnet died of unknown causes and was buried on August 11, 1596. He was eleven. Little is known of Shakespeare’s whereabouts until he appeared on the London theater scene in 1592.
William was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and successful glover and Mary Arden, daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. His date of birth is unknown, but he was baptized on April 26, 1564. Traditionally, the date of birth is given as April 23, but this has been based on an 18th century historian’s mistake. Where Shakespeare was educated is also unknown although it is theorized it was at the King’s New School in Stratford which was a free school chartered in 1553 and was located about a quarter-mile from his home. Each school was of varying quality but most were based on the same curriculum – a basic Latin text was standardized by royal decree. The youngster would have been educated using classical Latin authors.
There has been much speculation on the “lost years” – the time between the birth of twins and Shakespeare’s appearance in London in 1592. In one story, William fled after getting in trouble with the local squire, Thomas Lucy. Perhaps he poached a deer or maybe he wrote an unflattering ballad or even he wrote a scurrilous ballad after being prosecuted for poaching a deer. John Aubrey, writer of Brief Lives written 1669-1696, claimed Shakespeare had been a “schoolmaster in the country” based on stories from contemporaries of the playwright. Perhaps he had become an actor when the traveling troupe, Queen Elizabeth’s Men found themselves short staffed in Stratford. In some way, Shakespeare did eventually make his way to London.
The man is often regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s supreme dramatist. He is sometimes called the Bard of Avon and called England’s national poet. Some of his work has been lost over time. Today, there exist 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and some other verses. His plays have been translated into every major living language. They are performed more than those of any other playwright. It appears that he retired back to Stratford around 1613 at the age of 49 and died there three years later. Speculation abounds about his private life and his public works, even questioning whether he actually wrote the words attributed to him.
This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, / May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet. (Romeo and Juliet, 2.2)
Hear my soul speak: / The very instant that I saw you, did / My heart fly to your service. (The Tempest, 3.1)
If thou remember’st not the slightest folly / That ever love did make thee run into, / Thou hast not loved. (As You Like It, 2.4)
When Love speaks, the voice of all the gods / Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony. (Love’s Labour’s Lost, 4.3) – all from William Shakespeare
Also on this day: The Pitch Experiment – In 2000, the eighth drop in the 73 year old Pitch Experiment drops.
Night Life & Death – In 1942, the Cocoanut Grove burned.
Hot Off the Presses – In 1814, The London Times was printed using a steam operated press.
Attack – In 2002, the Mombasa attacks took place in Kenya.