Talk:Shakespeare's life

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Footnote 3[edit]

Shakespeare was a total jerk, and he had no life. His literature was bad, and I don't know why we continue to "enjoy" it. Good work, though {:)}-I-< —Preceding unsigned comment added by Boofiegoof (talkcontribs) 02:28, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Can anyone work out what's gone wrong with footnote 3 on this page? It's been broken for the whole of March, it seems. AndyJones 17:53, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Shakespeare's family tree[edit]

There seems to be something wrong with the family tree, although I don't know exactly how it works or should be, can anyone look into it? Blacer (talk) 09:37, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Well, I've fixed it. I'm not sure if the editor was trying to add any useful info, though. If yes, that's been lost with my fix, too. AndyJones (talk) 13:02, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

Two Joan Shakespeares?[edit]

The list of Shakespeare's parents' children includes two Joans, both of whom survived to adulthood. The article Joan Shakespeare indicates that the younger Joan was named after a deceased older sister, which makes more sense; I can understand the Shakespeares reusing a name if the first child by that name had died -- but not if the older child by that name were still living. I suspect that the first Joan's date of death is listed incorrectly. --Metropolitan90 (talk) 09:16, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

  • You are right, and the sentence's source agrees with you. I've fixed it. Unfortunately I've no access to a print source here to double check. AndyJones (talk) 21:09, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Ref from ODNB added. --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:28, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Died aged 52?[edit]

The intro states that one of the certainties about Shakespeare is that he was 52 at the time of his death. But if he had been born on the 24th or 25th of April, he would only have been 51. ðarkuncoll 16:50, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Fixed. Thanks for spotting this.--Old Moonraker (talk) 08:06, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
This is not fixed. The article still asserts that he died at age 52. (This is not in the intro, but in the "Later years and death" section.) Please fix. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:16, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

The Upstart Crow[edit]

There are many problems with this article reporting rumors and conjecture as fact. There is, for example, no evidence that Shakespeare played the ghost in Hamlet; that's just a theatrical legend. Furthermore, the latest research has shown that the "upstart crow" in Greene's pamphlet was most probably the actor, Edward Alleyn, and not Shakespeare. (talk) 22:18, 1 December 2009 (UTC)Daver852

Died aged 53?[edit]

The intro now states that he died aged 53, which cannot possibly be correct if he was born in 1564. The inscription on his monument reads: AETATIS 53 DIE 23 AP. Since DIE means "day" - the inclusion of which would otherwise be superfluous since the date is given as well - it is clear that the proper translation of this phrase should be something like, "On the day of attaining his 53rd year." I.e., as we would say, his 52nd birthday. ðarkuncoll 18:33, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Disruptive edits[edit]

I have reverted Smatprt's disruptive edits, which amount to vandalism and WP:POINT. The title of this article is not "Undisputed facts found in the Public Record Office", and in fact, if you read Shakespeare in the Public Records there are many references to his play writing activity, including the 1604 Master of the Revels account naming Shakespeare as the author of Measure for Measure, Othello, Merry Wives, Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, Henry V, and Merchant of Venice. Tom Reedy (talk) 05:02, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

There's a difference between giving an account of some theories for the relatively undocumented periods in the life, including the details of why and by whom they were made, and stating the theories as fact. The restored edits make that distinction very clearly. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:19, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
I've tagged this article regarding balance and neutrality. Assertions are being stated as documented facts and minority viewpoints are being deleted or ignored. Attempts to improve are being labeled as vandalism. Smatprt (talk) 15:48, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
I have no problem with most of your last edits except for the lede, which I have restored. Shakespeare's notability is based on his being a playwright, and that is reliably recorded in official government records just like his birth, marriage, death, and property ownership. Denying that is advocating a fringe theory based on nothing more than centuries-later speculation, and that is the scholarly consensus. This article is about Shakespeare biography, not the SAQ. Tom Reedy (talk) 16:09, 20 September 2010 (UTC)
Tom, could you do me a favour and change the heading here to remove Smatprt's name, to reference the edits rather than the editor? It's not a big deal, but let's try to observe the niceties to give the discussion every chance to stay constructive.
That said, I'm willing to entertain an argument that some reference to Authorship may be appropriate in this article (unlike the plays article). I don't currently agree that such would be appropriate, but I'm open to being persuaded if a coherent argument for it can be made. I also don't currently see what form such reference might take that wouldn't be obviously coatrackish (to torture a term) and malapropos. Perhaps Smatprt could construct such an argument, and make some suggestions for how it might be included, here on Talk? --Xover (talk) 06:14, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
Any authorship material in this article should concern Shakespeare's collaborations, but I really don't see how even that relates to the narrow focus of this article. If we're going to ban all biographical speculation from this article (which is fine with me, and perhaps there should be an an article about the biographies that have been written about him that covers the traditions and speculations), then certainly no unsupported speculation such as the SAQ should be allowed, and the main sources should be Schoenbaum's A Documentary Life, Chambers, and Vol. 263 of Dictionary of Literary Biography. But to say there is no clear documentary evidence of his authorship of the plays is ludicrous. Tom Reedy (talk) 12:36, 22 September 2010 (UTC)


It says "The bare historical record documents that"... I´m uncertain what "bare historical record" means. Could it just say "It´s documented that"...? Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 18:19, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Shakespeare as merchant and property owner[edit]

This section has been added, based on a bit of "news" that's been popping up today on the BBC and elsewhere:

In May 2013, researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales will present a research paper concerning Shakespeare's trading activities. The paper describes Shakespeare as a businessman who hoarded grain during times of famine and sold it at inflated prices. He was prosecuted in 1598 for doing so, and was also accused of tax evasion.[1] The authors argue that understanding Shakespeare as a merchant is important to understanding the contemporaneous nature of his writing. For example, they cite his work Coriolanus, which depicts famine and riots in ancient Rome, and was written at the time of a real uprising, in 1607 in the English Midlands. Famine also provides a background to his play, King Lear. However, his grain hoarding did not square with romantic notions of Shakespeare; a memorial stone in Stratford's Trinity Church originally depicted him with a sack of grain; this was replaced by one that deleted the grain in favor of a tasseled cushion and quill pain.

I think we need to discuss the extent to which details of his business activities should be included, here, but it's certainly not the case that this is in any way new information. The documents concerning tax and grain-hoarding have been known for many many decades. They are detailed in Schoenbaum (1974) and many other sources. We don't know if it was WS or his wife who was actually responsible for the activities in Stratford, but we do know that it was common practice for local householders - not anything special to the Shakespeare household. Regarding tax, that's nothing more than the fact that tax debts were written off after he moved lodgings in London, which, again, was commonplace. There's no evidence of actual intent. As for the Stratford monument, it depicted no such thing. In fact this whole non-story has a very fishy feel. Paul B (talk) 18:00, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

I don't know of any record that he sold grain at inflated prices or was accused of tax evasion. To the contrary, the clear implication of his disappearance from the roll of taxpayers who couldn't be found is that they found him and he paid it. In any case we don't reference Shakespeare articles from newspaper stories, especially those about a paper that hasn't been published. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:45, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
I believe these policy directions will probably come in handy: WP:SCHOLARSHIP, WP:NOTNEWSPAPER. Tom Reedy (talk) 03:00, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
The citation is from Associated Press, which is among the most reliable press sources and would not at all contravene Wikipedia policy. On the other hand, you (Tom Reedy) posted an opinion here on this page with no citation at all. Ditto for Paul Barlow. Can either of you back up your opinions and decision to remove material with anything except your citing yourselves? Raryel (talk) 11:46, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
There is no rule that says one needs to "cite" anything to remove material. However, on the contrary, I pointed to Schoenbaum, a reference to Samuel Schoenbaum's book Shakespeare: A Documentary Life. There is also his William Shakespeare, Records and Images. You can also read just about any biography of Shakespeare published in the last 50 years in which you will find discussion of the so-called grain hoarding and "tax evasion". Just type the words "Shakespeare grain hoarding" into google books to see how many hundreds of books have discussed this over the last half century [1]. Try it with "Shakespeare tax" too [2]. It is not my fault that you apparently do not know basic facts about Shakespeare. The stuff about the monument is simply factually untrue. It's not clear whether this claim originates with Jayne Archer, the scholar in question, or not. It does not appear anywhere in the Sunday Times report, which seems to be the main source of these stories, so it may have been added at some point by a reporter who wanted to fill out the "story" with extra detail. It's attributed to Archer, so maybe she said it, or the reporter misundserstood something she said; I don't know. It's a late Victorian invention of the so-called Baconians. You won't find it in any of the serious literature on the Shakespeare memorial, but you can find a discussion of it on the talk page of the relevant article: Shakespeare's funerary monument. If you want to look at what proper historians and art historians say about the monument you can read Schoenbaum's essay in Images of Shakespeare (ed Habicht et al) or Tarnya Cooper's Searching for Shakespeare. Paul B (talk) 12:39, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
"Material such as an article, book, monograph, or research paper that has been vetted by the scholarly community is regarded as reliable."
"While news coverage can be useful source material for encyclopedic topics, most newsworthy events do not qualify for inclusion."
We don't rush to include every time a Shakespeare scholar farts in Shakespeare articles. The paper has not yet been published. Tom Reedy (talk) 12:16, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
A friend of mine recently had an experience in which a minor discovery about William Blake was blown up out of all proportion by the publicity department of the university where he works. They claimed he had discovered numerous lost masterpieces by the artist/poet. In fact one of his students had found an uncatalogued copy of one of Blake's books (his Job engravings). These non-existent discoveries were then picked up by the press, causing him considerable embarrassment. This may be another example of a publicity department getting out of hand, not uncommon these days as universities get more "commercial". It seems that the principal scholar involved in this is a legitimate figure, and there is a reference to Jonathan Bate having commented positively on the paper (though it seems a distinctly luke-warm endorsement). It may be that she has made some discoveries beyond what is well-known, and the press have picked it up on a slow news day. But all the information in the article is very familiar stuff. My principal worry is the line about the monument. I am getting used to literary scholars saying remarkably dumb things about art. Paul B (talk) 11:37, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

Supposed attendance at Kings[edit]

Does anyone else see a problem with this?

The fact is that we do not know he attended Kings, or, indeed, if he ever went to school at all. Yet this para starts out by telling readers about his attendance at Kings, and only later backtracks to say we don't actually know this. This is giving priority of place to an assumption (or belief, or point of view), and creating an unbalanced impression, relying on the fact that first impressions last. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 12:31, 7 April 2013 (UTC)

As per your edit summary, "this reads as if the default position is that he attended Kings, and we just need a slight qualification to say that we don't actually know that".
That's a pretty accurate description of the status quo. Tom Reedy (talk) 17:26, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't really follow what you mean by that.
Surely we need to be up front about our lack of knowledge, and not present assumptions as if they were facts and only later qualify them. My version went "It is not known with any certainty where Shakespeare was schooled. Attendance records for the time have been lost, but it is generally believed he attended King's New School in Stratford". That was reverted as "POV", but it's not POV, it's an accurate statement of what we know. What we have at the moment is what we do not know but some people assume to be so. If anything's POV, that is. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 20:50, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
The first sentence in your version is somewhat bizarre. He lived in Stratford upon Avon. He didn't have a private plane to take him to school every morning in another town. The term POV, by the way, was used by you in your original edit summary. It is the consensus of scholars that he went to school in Stratford as we would expect. That's not just the view of "some people". Your edit introduces an element of mystery and speculation which is not required. To give a, possibly rather lurid, example: we can't be certain that his father was John Shakespere. Maybe his mother had an affair with Thomas Lucy. But that's pure sperculation on the basis of nothing. We wouldn't write "his father is assumed to have been John Shakespeare" because it sends a hint to the reader that is not warranted by any evidence. But you can just as easily assert that "What we have at the moment is what we do not know but some people assume to be so. If anything's POV, that is." No it isn't. In fact the curreent wording accurately describes the degree of uncertaintly experienced by Shakespeare scholars on this matter - little more than than an abstract possibility that it may not be true, just as there is also an abstract possibility that he was switched by gypsies in his cradle. Paul B (talk) 19:07, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:William Shakespeare's influence which affects this page. Please participate on that page and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RMCD bot 17:29, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Misleading section heading -- "Anecdotal Traditions"[edit]

The heading "Anecdotal Traditions" is not accurate in that it doesn't match what follows below it: a collection of various ideas -- some are very properly researched and developed by reputed authors, and therefore not at all "anecdotal". The heading could be replaced with "Various ideas" but the section could actually do without the heading and just make use of the usual paragraph formatting.DocFido (talk) 13:01, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Shakespeare's death[edit]

The article mentions simply the date of when he died. There is no mention of how he died. This is a very glaring omission. Most readers will want to know how he died. If the cause is unknown, the article should at least say so. Does anyone know for sure? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 15:54, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

You yourself might consider doing some research in some reliable sources on this topic. I know some interesting evidence is out there. Ashenderflickin (talk) 16:12, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. I have no time to do such research. I noticed this glaring error, and I wanted to bring it to the attention of editors at this Talk Page. I am quite certain that reliable sources must say something about this. Even if the reliable sources say the cause is "unknown" or "questionable", this should be included in the article. We can't leave this extremely important fact out entirely. It is a glaring omission. Thoughts? Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:20, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I think you have a point, and I added passage to the article on this topic. Ashenderflickin (talk) 12:12, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 19:06, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
It's not an error, let alone a "glaring" one. I'm fine with having it as part of the content, but omission of something that's not known is not an "error". Paul B (talk) 19:23, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
It is clearly a glaring omission. And, yes, it's an error (namely, an error of omission). As I said, I am quite certain that reliable sources have addressed the issue of Shakespeare's death. Whatever these RS's say about the matter, we should include something. If it is "unknown", then we state in the article that it is "unknown". How is this even in the least bit controversial? Seriously? Tell me: what is the argument in favor of excluding this pertinent info? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 00:05, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
This page is for improving the article, not debating a side-issue. There is no issue here, since the content has been added and sourced with a RS. You could consider a reason for not adding something to WP might be the reason you yourself offered — that people don’t have time. Ashenderflickin (talk) 01:46, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
The entire discussion above is indeed centered around improving the article (i.e., whether or not the article should contain the cause of death). Side issues are naturally going to flow from such a discussion and, in fact, be a relevant part of the discussion to improve the article. This article has existed for nearly ten years. I'd find it hard to believe that no one at all has had any time whatsoever in all those years. In fact, as soon as I posted this Talk Page thread, another editor immediately went in and made the suggested edit. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 04:20, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Not to mention the fact that this is rated as an article of "Top Importance". All the more reason I'd find it hard to believe that no one ever had any time to add this info in the past ten years. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 04:21, 23 August 2014 (UTC)