Helen's, Bishopsgate , north of the River Thames.
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There, he rented rooms from a French Huguenot named Christopher Mountjoy, a maker of ladies' wigs and other headgear. Rowe was the first biographer to record the tradition, repeated by Johnson , that Shakespeare retired to Stratford "some years before his death". Retirement from all work was uncommon at that time. Mountjoy , a court case concerning the marriage settlement of Mountjoy's daughter, Mary.
Shakespeare died on 23 April , at the age of No extant contemporary source explains how or why he died.
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Half a century later, John Ward , the vicar of Stratford, wrote in his notebook: "Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted",   not an impossible scenario since Shakespeare knew Jonson and Drayton. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.
Susanna had married a physician, John Hall, in ,  and Judith had married Thomas Quiney , a vintner , two months before Shakespeare's death. Thomas was ordered by the church court to do public penance, which would have caused much shame and embarrassment for the Shakespeare family. Shakespeare bequeathed the bulk of his large estate to his elder daughter Susanna  under stipulations that she pass it down intact to "the first son of her body". Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church two days after his death. Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare, To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Some time before , a funerary monument was erected in his memory on the north wall, with a half-effigy of him in the act of writing.
Its plaque compares him to Nestor , Socrates , and Virgil. Shakespeare has been commemorated in many statues and memorials around the world, including funeral monuments in Southwark Cathedral and Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
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Most playwrights of the period typically collaborated with others at some point, and critics agree that Shakespeare did the same, mostly early and late in his career. The first recorded works of Shakespeare are Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI , written in the early s during a vogue for historical drama. Shakespeare's plays are difficult to date precisely, however,   and studies of the texts suggest that Titus Andronicus , The Comedy of Errors , The Taming of the Shrew , and The Two Gentlemen of Verona may also belong to Shakespeare's earliest period.
Shakespeare's early classical and Italianate comedies, containing tight double plots and precise comic sequences, give way in the mids to the romantic atmosphere of his most acclaimed comedies. His characters become more complex and tender as he switches deftly between comic and serious scenes, prose and poetry, and achieves the narrative variety of his mature work.
In the early 17th century, Shakespeare wrote the so-called " problem plays " Measure for Measure , Troilus and Cressida , and All's Well That Ends Well and a number of his best known tragedies. The titular hero of one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, Hamlet , has probably been discussed more than any other Shakespearean character, especially for his famous soliloquy which begins " To be or not to be; that is the question ". According to the critic Frank Kermode, "the play-offers neither its good characters nor its audience any relief from its cruelty".
His last major tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus , contain some of Shakespeare's finest poetry and were considered his most successful tragedies by the poet and critic T. In his final period, Shakespeare turned to romance or tragicomedy and completed three more major plays: Cymbeline , The Winter's Tale , and The Tempest , as well as the collaboration, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Less bleak than the tragedies, these four plays are graver in tone than the comedies of the s, but they end with reconciliation and the forgiveness of potentially tragic errors.
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It is not clear for which companies Shakespeare wrote his early plays. The title page of the edition of Titus Andronicus reveals that the play had been acted by three different troupes. Although the performance records are patchy, the King's Men performed seven of Shakespeare's plays at court between 1 November , and 31 October , including two performances of The Merchant of Venice. In Cymbeline , for example, Jupiter descends "in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle: he throws a thunderbolt.
The ghosts fall on their knees. It contained 36 texts, including 18 printed for the first time. Alfred Pollard termed some of the pre versions as " bad quartos " because of their adapted, paraphrased or garbled texts, which may in places have been reconstructed from memory. The differences may stem from copying or printing errors, from notes by actors or audience members, or from Shakespeare's own papers.
In the case of King Lear , however, while most modern editions do conflate them, the folio version is so different from the quarto that the Oxford Shakespeare prints them both, arguing that they cannot be conflated without confusion. In and , when the theatres were closed because of plague , Shakespeare published two narrative poems on sexual themes, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.
He dedicated them to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. In Venus and Adonis , an innocent Adonis rejects the sexual advances of Venus ; while in The Rape of Lucrece , the virtuous wife Lucrece is raped by the lustful Tarquin. A third narrative poem, A Lover's Complaint , in which a young woman laments her seduction by a persuasive suitor, was printed in the first edition of the Sonnets in Most scholars now accept that Shakespeare wrote A Lover's Complaint.
Critics consider that its fine qualities are marred by leaden effects. In , two early drafts of sonnets and appeared in The Passionate Pilgrim , published under Shakespeare's name but without his permission. Published in , the Sonnets were the last of Shakespeare's non-dramatic works to be printed.
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Scholars are not certain when each of the sonnets was composed, but evidence suggests that Shakespeare wrote sonnets throughout his career for a private readership. It remains unclear if these figures represent real individuals, or if the authorial "I" who addresses them represents Shakespeare himself, though Wordsworth believed that with the sonnets "Shakespeare unlocked his heart".
The edition was dedicated to a "Mr. It is not known whether this was written by Shakespeare himself or by the publisher, Thomas Thorpe , whose initials appear at the foot of the dedication page; nor is it known who Mr. Shakespeare's first plays were written in the conventional style of the day. He wrote them in a stylised language that does not always spring naturally from the needs of the characters or the drama. The grand speeches in Titus Andronicus , in the view of some critics, often hold up the action, for example; and the verse in The Two Gentlemen of Verona has been described as stilted.
However, Shakespeare soon began to adapt the traditional styles to his own purposes. The opening soliloquy of Richard III has its roots in the self-declaration of Vice in medieval drama. At the same time, Richard's vivid self-awareness looks forward to the soliloquies of Shakespeare's mature plays. Shakespeare combined the two throughout his career, with Romeo and Juliet perhaps the best example of the mixing of the styles.
He increasingly tuned his metaphors and images to the needs of the drama itself. Shakespeare's standard poetic form was blank verse , composed in iambic pentameter. In practice, this meant that his verse was usually unrhymed and consisted of ten syllables to a line, spoken with a stress on every second syllable.
The blank verse of his early plays is quite different from that of his later ones. It is often beautiful, but its sentences tend to start, pause, and finish at the end of lines , with the risk of monotony. This technique releases the new power and flexibility of the poetry in plays such as Julius Caesar and Hamlet. Shakespeare uses it, for example, to convey the turmoil in Hamlet's mind: . Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting That would not let me sleep.
Methought I lay Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly— And prais'd be rashness for it—let us know Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well After Hamlet , Shakespeare varied his poetic style further, particularly in the more emotional passages of the late tragedies. The literary critic A. Bradley described this style as "more concentrated, rapid, varied, and, in construction, less regular, not seldom twisted or elliptical". These included run-on lines , irregular pauses and stops, and extreme variations in sentence structure and length. The listener is challenged to complete the sense.
Shakespeare combined poetic genius with a practical sense of the theatre.
This strength of design ensures that a Shakespeare play can survive translation, cutting and wide interpretation without loss to its core drama. He preserved aspects of his earlier style in the later plays, however. In Shakespeare's late romances , he deliberately returned to a more artificial style, which emphasised the illusion of theatre.
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