William Shakespeare

The Bard suffers breech of copyright. (1609)

In 1609, the Bard's sonnets were published without the Bard’s permission. It is considered unlikely that William wanted many of his deeply personal poems to be revealed to the outside world. It was not however the first time; in 1599, in a collection entitled "The Passionate Pilgrim" , two of his poems had been printed without William’s permission.

The Bard's lost years?

Looking for work in London, just four days ride way from Stratford, William is believed to have left his family back home for some twenty years whilst he pursued his craft. He only returned back to his family in 1609, having visited only during the forty day period of Lent when theatres though open well into the start of Lent would later close in accordance with the traditional banning of all forms of diversionary entertainment around this important Easter event.

William applies for a Coat of Arms. (1596)

Records with the College of Heralds, reveal William applied for a coat of arms. Despite a lack of proof, he was granted his request. Later in 1599 he applied for his mother’s coat of arms to be added to his own.

William buys major residential property. (1597)

At age 15, William purchased the New Place. This was one of the most prominent and desired properties in all of Stratford being the second largest house in town. Given his father's known financial hardship from 1576, William must either have used his own money to buy this expensive property or his father had placed money in his son’s name. It is possible William might have bought this prominent property with money from his plays. It is estimated that roughly fifteen of his 37 plays would have been written and performed by 1597!

Will flats in London. (Circa 1601-1604)

Court records of a dispute between William's landlord Christopher Mountjoy and his son-in-law Stephen Belott confirm that William was living in London around 1601. The playwright's name is recorded in the court records when he gave testimony in 1612 concerning Mountjoy and Belott’s dispute. Interestingly, in 1601, he bought roughly 107 acres of arable land with twenty acres of pasturage for 20 pounds in Old Stratford.

The Bard strikes it rich.

William made his greatest financial gain in 1605 when he purchased leases of real estate near Stratford. This investment of some four hundred and forty pounds doubled in value and earned him 60 pounds income each year. Some academics speculate that this investment gave the Bard the time he needed to write plays uninterrupted and we know that he was indeed thought of as a businessman in the Stratford area...

A friend passes away.

Yet another record confirming the Bard's existence was John Comb’s will which bequeathed to the Bard the princely sum of just five pounds.

The Bard's will and death.

Records reveal that the great Bard revised his will on March the 25th, 1616. Less than a month later, he died on April the 23rd, 1616. Literature's famous Bard is buried at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. He infamously left his second-best bed to his wife Anne Hathaway and little else, giving most of his estate to his eldest daughter Susanna who has married a prominent and distinguished physician named John Hall in June 1607. This was not as callous as it seems; the Bard's best bed was for guests; his second-best bed was his marriage bed... His will also named actors Richard Burbage, Henry Condell and John Hemminges, providing proof to academics today that William was involved in theatre. The Bard's direct line of descendants ended some 54 years later until Susanna’s daughter Elizabeth died in 1670.

The Bard's last words...

Written upon William Shakespeare’s tombstone is an appeal that he be left to rest in peace with a curse on those who would move his bones...

Good friend, for Jesus´ sake forbeare
To digg the dust enclosed here!
Blest be ye man that spares thes stones
And curst be he that moues my bones.

Translated this reads as:

Good friend, for Jesus’ sake, forbear

To dig the dust enclosed here;

Blest be the man that spares these stones

And curst he that moves my bones.

Did Shakespeare write the 37 plays and 154 sonnets credited to him?

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