William Shakespeare biography part 2
This is the second part of the William Shakespeare biography.
...from William Shakespeare biography part 1. Subsequently to 1594, he acted occasionally in a playhouse in Newington Butts, and between 1595 and 1599 in the "Curtain." In the latter year the "Globe" was built on the Bankside, and 10 years later the "Blackfriars:" and with these two, but especially with the former, the remainder of his professional life was associated. It is not unlikely that he visited various provincial towns; but that he was ever in Scotland or on the Continent is improbable
Among the plays in which he appeared were Jonson's Every Man in his Humour and Sejanus, and in Hamlet he played "The Ghost;" and it is said that his brother Gilbert as an old man remembered his appearing as "Adam" in As You Like It. By 1595 S. was famous and prosperous; his earlier plays had been written and acted, and his poems Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece, and probably most of the sonnets, had been pub. and received with extraordinary favour. He had also powerful friends and patrons, including the Earl of Southampton, and was known at Court. By the end of the century he is mentioned by Francis Meres (q.v.) as the greatest man of letters of the day, and his name had become so valuable that it was affixed by unscrupulous publishers to works, e.g. Locrine, Oldcastle, and The Yorkshire Tragedy, by other and often very inferior hands. He had also resumed a close connection with Stratford, and was making the restoration of the family position there the object of his ambition. In accordance with this he induced his f. to apply for a grant of arms, which was given, and he purchased New Place, the largest house in the village. With the income derived from his profession as an actor and dramatist, and his share of the profits of the Globe and Blackfriars theatres, and in view of the business capacity with which he managed his affairs, he may be regarded as almost a wealthy man, and he went on adding to his influence in Stratford by buying land. He had enjoyed the favour of Elizabeth, and her death in 1603 did nothing to disturb his fortunes, as he stood quite as well with her successor. His company received the title of the "King's Servants," and his plays were frequently performed before the Court. But notwithstanding this, the clouds had gathered over his life. The conspiracy of Essex in 1601 had involved several of his friends and patrons in disaster; he had himself been entangled in the unhappy love affair which is supposed to be referred to in some of his sonnets, and he had suffered unkindness at the hands of a friend. For a few years his dramas breathe the darkness and bitterness of a heart which has been sounding the depths of sad experience. He soon, however, emerged from this and, passing through the period of the great tragedies, reached the serene triumph and peace of his later dramas. In 1611 S. severed his long connection with the stage, and retired to Stratford, where the remaining five years of his life were spent in honour and prosperity. Early in 1616 his health began to give way, and he made his will. In the spring he received a visit from his friends, Jonson and Drayton, and the festivity with which it was celebrated seems to have brought on a fever, of which he d. on April 23. He was survived by his wife and his two dau., both of whom were married. His descendants d. out with his grand-daughter, Elizabeth Hall.
Immense research has been spent upon the writings of S., with the result of substantial agreement as to the order of their production and the sources from which their subjects were drawn; for S. rarely troubled himself with the construction of a story, but adopting one already existing reared upon it as a foundation one of those marvellous superstructures which make him the greatest painter and interpreter of human character the world has ever seen. His period of literary production extends from about 1588 to 1613, and falls naturally into four divisions, which Prof. Dowden has named, "In the Workshop" ending in 1596; "In the World" 1596-1601; "Out of the Depths" 1601-1608; and "On the Heights" 1608-1613. Of the 37 plays usually attributed to him, 16 only were pub. during his lifetime, so that the exact order in which they were produced cannot always be determined with certainty. Recent authorities are agreed to the extent that while they do not invariably place the individual plays in the same order, they are almost entirely at one as to which belong to the four periods respectively. The following list shows in a condensed form the order according to Mr. Sidney Lee (Dictionary of National Biography) with the most probable dates and the original sources on which the plays are founded.
From A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John Cousins. The William Shakespeare biography in Encyclopedia Britannica is recommended for a supplementary account.