by Judy Ann Davis
It’s been a long, long month for people in our nation with our “stay in home or shelter in place” orders from our state governments. I hope everyone is doing well.
For me, more of an introvert than an extrovert, my days are not as difficult as others. I’m busy with small household chores or various activities as such as baking, sewing, crocheting, woodworking or writing. And I’m very used to solitude when I’m writing.
April is the birth and death month of one of our most well-known writers in literature—William Shakespeare. Ironically, Shakespeare lived through the first wave of the bubonic plague. It shut down the theatres in London and lasted sixteen months (during 1593-1594), killing approximately 20,000 people in London and the surrounding area. This was one of Shakespeare most prolific times for writing poetry. He is credited for writing over 150 sonnets. (NOTE: The Great Plague of 1665 occurred later, where 15 percent of London’s populations perished again.)
William Shakespeare was born to John Shakespeare, an alderman and successful glove maker, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. Since there was no documentation of his exact birth date, history uses April 26, 1564, his baptism date instead. He was the third of eight children and the eldest surviving son. At the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than he was. Together, they had three children.
Although it’s not known exactly when Shakespeare began writing, records of theater performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592. He would have been only 28 years old.
After 1594, his plays were performed only by a group of players called Lord Chamberlain’s Men, of which he was a player himself, and which also became the leading playing company in London. In 1599, a partnership of members of the company built their own theatre on the south bank of the Thames which they named the Globe. The partnership also took over the Blackfriars indoor theatre in 1608. Records show that his property purchases and investments with the company made him a wealthy man. He bought the second-largest house in Stratford for his family.
History best remembers Shakespeare as an accomplished playwright, poet, writer, and actor. Along with his poems and sonnets, he wrote 37 plays during his lifetime. Some of his most well-known works are Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Taming of the Shrew. Sadly, he died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52.
Do you have a favorite Shakespeare work that you like? As a romance and mystery writer, I would have to admit that Romeo and Juliet was my favorite, despite the tragic ending.
COMING SOON from the "Two Scoops or One" Wild Rose Press Collection: