The Tudor Society

Who was William Shakespeare?

Today's Claire Chats video was inspired by my recent visit to Stratford-upon-Avon with the Discover the Tudors tour. We visited Shakespeare's birthplace, New Place, Hall's Croft, Guild Hall and Shakespeare's Schoolroom, and Holy Trinity Church, and although I grew up in the area and studied Shakespeare and his works at school and university I learned so much about the man from our guide and speakers. I wanted to share some of that with you today.

Here are some YouTube videos of Michael Wood's "In Search of Shakespeare" documentary:

Further reading on the Shakespeare authorship controversy

Notes and Sources

There are 4 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    I noted that you don’t go with the various theories about the authorship nonsense, and it is nonsense, but if you had a favourite alternative Shakespeare, who would it be?

    Oxford was too involved with Elizabeth I for my liking so that is him out.
    Bacon arrived at James court on the make and was too young.

    William Stanley was a soldier and too involved in his own conspiracy and legal nonsense to be Shakespeare.
    Christopher Marlow got himself killed before Shakespeare took off.

    All sorts of other people come up and they lived beyond his death.

    As you point out he was the son of a yeoman daughter with property, Mary Arden, her farm was very large. His dad was an alderman or city official, he went to grammar school, which provided a better education that we have now, his family had money and status. When he moved to London he lived in the part of town that you mixed with sailors who would have brought home stories from abroad. There are dozens of references to his home town in Shakespeare. A member of the Arden family was implicated in the Somerville plot against Elizabeth and his house was used as a meeting place. John Shakespeare was as you point out on the make and thrown of the Council because of debt. They were not just nobodies. He had his own company of actors in London as well and New Place was a manor of some size.

    Even Anne Hathaway Cottage is substantial, even though he married her because she was pregnant. Her family also had plenty of money. Glove making was a high status trade and the wool trade counted for more than 60% of the national economy. The Arden Farm is very impressive. Also the numerous links to his family are in his plays as you mention. There is of course his grave, right in front of the alter and family plot in the parish church, which he couldn’t have unless he was important.

    I was of course in Staffordshire in June and July this year and I really loved the country. It’s how you imagine a typical English county.

    Thanks for your beautiful video and especially the reading of the quote about mourning and possibly a link to the death of William and Anne loss of their son, Hamnet. Very moving.

  2. R

    Elizabeth I fans don’t watch episode two above, your heroine not so glorious or good Q Bess, more vicious than her father or sister.

  3. L

    I enjoyed the chat and found it informative. On a not so serious note has anyone seen the program about Shakespeare called Upstart Crow ? The series has just finished here in the U.K. Shakespeare is played by David Mitchel and its really funny. It’s about him making a name for himself in London while also trying to be a good husband and father for his family in Stratford-upon-Avon . Upstart Crow is an astute way to reinvent our love toilet humour, says a columnist for the Telegraph Newspaper. If anyone has a chance to see it you won’t be disappointed

    1. C - Post Author

      I keep meaning to watch it, so definitely will now. Thank you!

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Who was William Shakespeare?