Talk:William Shakespeare

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Featured article William Shakespeare is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on October 10, 2007.


Shakespeare also directed some of his plays (most) and thus also one of his occupations was being a Director; although this isn't shown under the Occupation section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Josshhuuuaaa (talkcontribs) 18:10, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

There is no evidence that he "directed" plays, or even that there was such as concept as theatre director at the time. Paul B (talk) 20:27, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
The role of Director simply didn't exist at the time, rather a combination of stock character performance and actor/writer lead ensemble rehearsal was employed. for reference see almost any book on the subject, specifically the academically definitive "The Shakespearean Stage, 1574-1642" by Gurr, Andrew. Cambridge University Press. MarlovianPlough (talk) 15:29, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Shakespeare's Religion[edit]

The Michael Wood documentary, "In Search of Shakespeare", establishes his faith as Catholic. Has this been refuted? Documentary can be YouTubed at: Adrienneharris (talk) 15:57, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

It's not an original claim. The various theories are all discussed in the article Shakespeare's religion. Paul B (talk) 16:03, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
Shakespeare's Catholicism is by no means established beyond reasonable doubt. Arguments, evidence and theories exist for Shakespeare as Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Agnostic and Jew. MarlovianPlough (talk) 15:34, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

recently of the court of King James[edit]

Has it been established whether the passage refers to William Shackspeare, gentleman, recently of the court of King James? Could it refer instead to William Shackspeare, gentleman, who recently in the court of King James which was established in this borough via Edward VI, etc., commenced the suit against Addenbrooke? Does the King James' court refer to Shakespeare or is the passage establishing that the court is operated by King James and was established in Stratford in the time of Edward VI?

I tend to lean toward the second interpretation as it seems odd to mention "court" as in retinue and then immediately define that this court of law has been in Stratford since Edward VI. Thank you for your consideration of this. Fotoguzzi (talk) 04:24, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

Looking at it again a few ways--emphasis mine: "Preceptum est servientibus ad clavam ibidem quod cum quidam Willielmus Shackspeare, generosus, nuper in curia domini Jacobi, nunc regis Anglie, burgi predicti, ibidem tenta virtute literarum patentium domini Edwardi, nuper regis Anglie, sexti, levavit quandam querelam suam versus quendam Johannem. Addenbrooke de placito debiti..."
...Shackspeare, gentleman, recently in the court of King James, current ruler of England, aforementioned borough... I do not know Latin sentence structure, but is "burgi predicti" referring to Shackspeare? Is it referring to James' court? If we remove, "nuper in curia domini Jacobi, nunc regis Anglie," is there still a sentence? Thanks. Fotoguzzi (talk) 02:55, 27 July 2014 (UTC) Fotoguzzi (talk) 01:10, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, the sentence would still make sense even with "nuper in curia domini Jacobi, nunc regis Anglie" removed. The "burgi predicti" tells us that William Shackspeare is of the aforesaid borough, presumably Stratford, and the "curia" is the royal court of King James, not the local one. In her "Ungentle Shakespeare" (p.241) Katherine Duncan-Jones says "In the seventh and last surviving document relating to this case Shakespeare is described as 'generosus, nuper in curia domini Jacobi, nunc regis Angliae' – 'a gentleman, lately in the court of the lord James, now King of England'. This pompous phrase suggests an attempt by Shakespeare's attorney [...] to 'pull rank' on his client's behalf, in order to secure the sum owed." Peter Farey (talk) 06:06, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I fail to see what any of this has to do with the article, unless a reliable source can be used to dispute the translation. Otherwise, it's just anti-strat special pleading. Paul B (talk) 18:44, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Or, the entirety of the world could determine if the current cited translation is correct, and if not, then search for a reliable source with an alternate translation. Peter Farey states that there is still a sentence if the parenthetical material is removed. Is not what remains something like: "...there having virtue of letters patent (from? from the time of?) King Edward, recent ruler of England, the sixth,..." What exactly was held because of the letters patent? The Edward VI material seems more parenthetical than the pompous phrase. Sorry if that is anti-Stratfordian--I was just trying to tie Stratford to Edward VI. Fotoguzzi (talk) 08:42, 5 August 2014 (UTC) Fotoguzzi (talk) 09:00, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that's just legalese boilerplate. Tom Reedy (talk) 00:18, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Here's Diana Price's post from a discussion about this very thing in 2001:
The "court" in question is the Court of Records in which the legal action is taking place. The translation, rendered in Lewis's "Shakespeare Documents" is "an order to the sergeants at mace that when a certain William Shakespeare, gentleman, recently in the court of James, now King of England, of the aforesaid borough, same held by virtue of letters patent from King Edward VI, recently king of England... ", etc.
The reference to the Court of Records, of the borough of Stratford, is made clear by reference to Edward VI, in whose reign the court received its charter (see Chambers, Facts and Problem, 2:117).
As a result, that detail was deleted from the essay "How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts". Tom Reedy (talk) 00:50, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Proposed "Further reading" section[edit]

Tom, I thought that the separation of the reading list into "References" and "Further reading" was a good idea, since it allows us far more easily to reexamine just what has been included in the latter with a view to removing some of the less useful or relevant ones. I am thinking, for example, of the editions of single plays or simply the "introductions" to some of them. In any case, a fair amount of work had clearly gone into the division of the list into two, and I think it deserved some discussion before the result was simply reverted. Peter Farey (talk) 05:55, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Shakespeare and Dickens: The Dynamics of Influence? The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare's Tragedies? Romanticism in National Context? Christopher Marlowe (1968)? Really?
The problem I see with a "further reading" section is when do you stop listing? Everyone has their favorites; sooner or later the list will be longer than the article. Tom Reedy (talk) 23:06, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
But what you fear is happening already, Tom, as your examples amply demonstrate. I simply suggest that splitting the list allows us more easily to identify items for deletion right now, and to prevent the uncontrolled addition of such items in the future, which the current arrangement has so clearly failed to facilitate.
Furthermore, as I said, I believe that Aa77zz deserved our thanks for the work he or she had put into this, and certainly not the peremptory dismissal of the edits with no discussion. Peter Farey (talk) 06:15, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Having just looked through the items which Aa77zz relocated into a "Further reading" section, I can see no more than 3 or 4 which I might have included in such a section if there had been one. In fact I would suggest that rather than having reverted the two edits (which did nothing to resolve the problem) it would have been better if you had simply deleted the new "Further reading" section in its entirety. That would have also ensured that the "References" section was correctly named, which it isn't right now. Peter Farey (talk) 07:26, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm not understanding you. Why isn't the references section correctly named? When I reverted the edits I was getting page formatting errors that were caused by incorrect formatting of the references. And it would have been nicer if he had discussed adding the further reading section before adding it. I think the only way to avoid the creep of everyone adding their favorite Shakespeare book is to just not have that section; certainly, with hundreds of Shakespeare books being published every year, interested readers can find some further information without the help of a completely arbitrary list. If some of the references aren't being used, then they should be deleted. Tom Reedy (talk) 08:17, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
And now I see you did that while I was typing! Good job. I think the entire page could stand a good revision, myself. I think the standards for FA have gone up since this article was vetted. Tom Reedy (talk) 08:22, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, the good job was really done by Aa77zz who went through the whole lot, picking out those which hadn't been cited in the text. Having checked a fair sample to see whether this was correct, all I did was replace the old "References" section with his version. Peter Farey (talk) 12:05, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Extra information on Shakespeare's birth date[edit]

Shakespeare's birth date is regarded as 23 April because during that time, children were baptized three days after being born. Since Shakespeare was baptized on 26th April, Shakespeare's birth date is taken to be on 23rd April. But the true date of Shakespeare's birth remains a mystery.

Infinite Library (talk) 10:57, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

The "rule" that children were baptized three days after birth isn't really a rule, it's just a factoid made up out of whole cloth by people who would like Shakespeare's birth date to correspond with his death date (and/or the feast of St. George). The origin of the 3-day assertion is traced in Schoenbaum's William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life (see p. 24 ff.) James Halliwell-Phillipps "remarked in passing that three days often elapsed between birth and baptism. This casual suggestion hardens into positive assertion in Sir Sidney Lee's 1898 Life of William Shakespeare… Actually no evidence demonstrates that such a customary interval ever obtained." It is also occasionally pointed out the The Prayer Book of 1559 instructed parents to have their children baptized by the first Sunday or Holy Day following birth (rather than "three days after birth"). So you are correct that his birth date is simply not known, but wrong in claiming that "during that time, children were baptized three days after being born". - Nunh-huh 20:42, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Shakespeare's death[edit]

The article does not mention how he died (i.e., the cause of death). This is a glaring omission, as most readers will want to know how he died (not simply when he died). If his cause of death is "unknown", then at least that fact should be mentioned in the article. Does anyone have information about this? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:02, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

It's not a glaring omission, because we don't know. All that we know is that he died shortly after making a new will, which suggests he was ill, and knew - or suspected - he might die. But then again it could have been sheer coincidence, or he decided to write a new will because of the recent discovery of his son-in-law's affair. We don't know, The only account of what he died of comes from gossip written down fifty years later by John Ward (vicar), who says he "died of a fever" after meeting Ben Jonson and Drayton and drinking too much. Paul B (talk) 16:50, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. But did you read my above post? It says ... If his cause of death is "unknown", then at least that fact should be mentioned in the article. This is clearly a glaring omission. He is one of the most researched persons in the history of the globe. Most people reading his biography will want to know how he died. I am quite certain that reliable sources have addressed this issue, one way or another. Why leave this material out? What is the argument in favor of excluding it? Even the stuff that you just wrote above (about his will, his illness, his fever, etc.). Maybe Shakespeare aficionados know that, but the average person does not. That information (and that sort of information) is useful and certainly more than this biography currently offers to its readers. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 19:57, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The article seems to hint at the idea that he died of the plague - but in a tentative way: "However it is perhaps relevant that the bubonic plague raged in London throughout 1609", when he might have been there. This [1] suggests syphilis. And this [2] is of interest too. Myrvin (talk) 20:41, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Apologies on accidental rollback, page refreshed when I was trying to click another link. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:43, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Plague is unlikely, as it would leave a wider record of deaths in the area. Syphilis is possible. That's what Katherine Duncan-Jones suggests, though there's no evidence of it. It could have been any number of diseases. It should be discussed in Shakespeare's life, certainly, which is the biographical article. This one is about everything, so there is a question of due weight. Also, it's worth adding that we don't add that the cause of death is unknown to most articles about people of this era, because in most cases all that can be said is that it was "natural causes". Unless it was something dramatic like a Marlowe's death in a knife fight, or Raleigh death from beheading, the causes are usually not known, due the general crappy state of medical knowledge in the era and the lack of records. We don't speculate about the cause of death of Ben Jonson or Philip Massinger (his alleged drinking chums), for example. That goes for almost all writers of the era (and pretty much everyone else too). Paul B (talk) 20:50, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I am not asking for speculation. I am simply saying that we should include whatever the reliable sources say. I can't imagine that reliable sources are silent on this matter. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 22:32, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
No they aren't. There's been endless speculation, as there is about just about everything to do with Shakespeare. We could probably create a whole article on what Shakespeare might have died of if we wanted to. But we don't include "whatever reliable sources say". We have to have regard for due weight. If we included whatever reliable sources say about Shakespeare this article would be unreadable and interminable. Paul B (talk) 18:55, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Age upon death[edit]

The article (and the info box) asserts that he died at age 52. If his date of birth is unknown, it is entirely plausible that he died at age 51 (assuming that his real birthday was after the "assumed" April 23 birthday). In other words, if he was actually born on April 24 or April 25 or even April 26, then he died at age 51. If indeed he was born on April 23, then he died at age 52. Either way, we don't know for sure. Therefore, his death at age 52 should not be listed as "fact". It should indicate "age 51 or age 52". Thoughts? Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:07, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

It says on his tomb that he was 52. He must therefore have died either on or shortly after his birthday. The abbreviation is ÆTATIS٠53 DIE 23 APR. (i.e. in his 53rd year). Paul B (talk) 16:44, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Shakespeare's Coat of Arms[edit]

User:Paul Barlow has deleted a section I wrote on Shakespeare's coat of arms, citing that the subject is irrelevant to Shakespeare's life and does not merit a section. This seems unfair to me. If you look on the articles of various other armigers such as Francis Drake or Terry Pratchett they have a section describing and illustrating their arms. It's not like it was an obtrusive section either. It was brief and it was at the bottom of the page. Zacwill16 (talk) 18:03, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Zacwill16, I didn't say it was "irrelevant to Shakespeare's life". I said it should be in the article called Shakespeare's life. There is already a discussion of the arms in that article. It could be expanded. I don't think it deserves a whole section here. This is a featured article and its content was very carefully worked over in order to get everything as "tight" as possible. The coat of arms may deserve a sentence, but I don't think it deserves an entire sub-section. This article differs from the others you mention because W.S. is so famous we have entire articles on various aspects of his life, career and work. There's even one on his handwriting and one on how his name is spelled. Paul B (talk) 18:15, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Of what relevancy is fame? Elizabeth II possibly the most famous person alive today has a section covering her arms. Zacwill16 (talk) 18:28, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
You miss the point. Perhaps I should have said "so widely discussed and written about" rather than "so famous", but the argument remains the same. Paul B (talk) 18:31, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
I can't say I agree, but I can see I'm not going to win this argument. Next time I think about adding content to an article I'll remember to keep my mouth shut and my pen lidded. Zacwill16 (talk) 18:49, 15 September 2014 (UTC)