Shakespeare: First steps as a Writer

William_Shakespeare_1609
William Shakespeare

So what was William Shakespeare doing before he made his debut in London?

It was a known fact, that he had often poached deer from Charlecote Park, the lands of Sir Thomas Lucy. According to Nicholas Rowe and Archdeacon Davies, he had often been whipped for stealing venison and rabbits.

William Shakespeare’s performances on the London stage …

In the latter part of the 1580’s, Shakespeare arrived in London, hoping to make a name for himself. By 1592 he had several plays being performed on stage, including “As You Like it.”

Out of utter disgust, Robert Greene the university – educated writer attacked his words in print. “There is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide, supposes he is well able to bombarst out a blank verse as the best of you, and being an absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake – scene in a country.”

Scholars agree it was Greene’s way of saying William Shakespeare was reaching above his rank, and matching those trained in the art of writing.

By the early part of the 1590’s William Shakespeare had become a partner in an acting company who performed in London, known as the “Lord Chamberlain’s Men.”  In 1603 they changed their name to that of the “King’s Men” following the crowning of King James I.

One thing we have to note, is that during the 16thcentury, the theatre was not frequented very much by those of mobility or those of high ranking in society.  They showed their appreciation in other ways, by being patrons to the performing arts.

For William Shakespeare to make his mark he needed to attract somebody of importance to his works. He was fortunate, that the Earl of Southampton; Henry Wriothesley liked what he read and saw, written and produced by this virtual newcomer.

Shakespeare dedicated his first two published poems to the Earl:

“Venus and Adonis” was published in 1593.  The story within the poem, tells the reader that Adonis was being seduced by Venus the goddess of love, by all means possible to her.  Adonis rejects her advances, and is killed by a boar, whilst out hunting, and where his blood falls upon the ground, a flower sprouted in his memory.

“The Rape of Lucrece” was published in 1594, and the story contained within the poem, tells of how Lucrece was raped by Tarquin a family friend.  She tells her father and husband of the event, and they promise to avenge her, then out of guilt she stabs herself to death.

Each poem was designed to show the guilt and moral confusions from lustful acts.  These poems proved to be very popular during the life of William Shakespeare, being re-printed many times.

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