How did William Shakespeare begin the career that made him one of Elizabethan and Jacobean London’s theatrical and literary successes? We know that in February of 1585 he was still living in Stratford-upon-Avon, the town of his birth. He was not quite 21 years old (born, perhaps, on 23 April 1564, baptized, certainly, on 26 April), the father of new-born twins Hamnet and Judith, who were christened on 2 February of that year, as well as of Susannah who had been born two years earlier. William’s father was John Shakespeare, a glover and leather-dresser, who had been prosperous and had held various prominent political offices in the town, but who got into debt around 1576, after which he appears to have been unable to pull his life together again. William’s mother, Mary Arden, came from a wealthy Catholic family; the Ardens were landowners who were members of the minor gentry. William had married Anne Hathaway in November 1582. Anne was seven or eight years older than William and was pregnant at the time of their marriage. We know that in 1592 Shakespeare was living in London, for the first reference to him as a writer, in a pamphlet by Robert Greene, appeared in that year. It is clear from Greene’s remarks that Shakespeare had been working in the theatre for some years, though we cannot tell from them how long. Also in 1592 Shakespeare began writing Venus and Adonis, the first of his two narrative poems. We know nothing of substance about his life between 1585 and 1592.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Shakespeare Becomes a Poet
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number