Everybody knows the name of William Shakespere… Shackspere… or was it Shaxper? Well, forget it1. There are 27 different spellings of his name. (Willm Shakp is top.) If you can’t remember any of them, just call him ‘Bard of Avon’2.
Who Was He?
Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers and most famous Britons of all time. His name, the phrase ‘To be or not to be’ or the name ‘Hamlet’ are known to millions of people. We do not know much about William’s life.
He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon but we don’t know the exact date. We just know that he was baptized3 on 26 April 1564, which is really interesting because William died on 23 April 1616.
William was one of eight children. We don’t know much about his early years, but he probably had good schooling and spent a lot of time outdoors.
In 1582, William married Anne Hathaway and had three kids. Ten years later William appeared in London and started his career as an actor and playwright4. He had a tough time because many other writers were very jealous5. His theatre company was called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. They performed at the Globe Theatre. William’s plays were big hits and made him famous and rich.
Queen Elizabeth I and King James were big fans of his. William spent his last years back in Stratford-upon-Avon where he died.
What Was the Theatre Like?
In Shakespeare’s times, the theatre was much different from modern theatres.The Globe was a large, open- air6 theatre where the poor had to stand on the floor, rain or shine. The rich could sit in covered galleries in comfy seats. All actors were men.
The audience could shout and throw things at actors they didn’t like.
The theatre used special effects such as fire and smoke, trap doors7 or cannons. Actors were somtimes lifted up in the air on wires8. A replica Globe was opened in London in 1997.
Vocabulary: 1[fəˈɡet it] – kašli na to/ pusť to z hlavy; 2[ba:d of ˈeivən] – Bard z Avonu; 3[bæpˈtaizd] – pokrstený/ pokřtěný; 4[ˈpleirait] – dramatik; 5[ˈdželəs] – žiarlivý/ žárlivý; 6[ˈəupən eə] – pod holým nebom/ pod širým nebem; 7[træp do:s] – padacie dvere/ padací dveře; 8[waiəs] – drôty/ dráty