William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 at Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, England. His father John Shakespeare was a prosperous tradesman. A product of the local Grammar school, Shakespeare’s education was cut short due to financial crisis. He married Ann Hathaway, a local farmer’s daughter in 1582. She was his senior by eight years. Shakespeare had three children, Susanna and the twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet died in 1596 at the age of eleven. Shakespeare went to London and began his career as an actor. He was known for his ‘Kingly’ parts and joined Chamberlain’s men as an actor and acted until 1604. His plays (the tragedies, comedies and histories) number thirty-seven in all. He became a shareholder in the Globe and Blackfriars, two leading theatres, and purchased property in London and Stratford. Unlike his contemporaries, Shakespeare never lost touch with his birth place. He purchased New place, One of the two largest stone houses in Stratford, in 1597 and it remained his Stratford home until his death in April 1616.
The sonnet, a short poem of 14 lines, was Italian in origin. The Italian sonnet is composed of two parts; the octave is a stanza of eight lines and the sestet is a stanza of six lines. The rhyme scheme was abba, abba (octave) and cde, cde or cd cd cd (sestet). ‘Italian theoreticians have been keen to stress the logical basis of the form, that the first quatrain states a proposition and the second proves it, that the first tercet (three lines of the sestet) confirms it second draws the conclusion’ . The Italian from was brilliantly used by Dante, Petrarch and John Milton.
In England, the sonnet was introduced in the sixteenth century by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 – 1542) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517 – 1547). They adopted a different rhyme – scheme with three alternately rhyming quatrains abab, cdcd, efef, and a final couplet gg. William Shakespeare used this from brilliantly. Most of the sonnets of Shakespeare were probably written in 1594 and of the 154 sonnets, the first 126 are addressed to young man and the remaining 28 to a ‘dark lady’. The young man might have been shakespeare’s patron, the Earl of Southampton. The identity of the lady remains a mystery. The sonnets are primarily focusing on love and friendship. The sonnet from was extremely popular in age.Venus amd adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) are Shakespeare’s two major narrative poems.
Poems By William Shakespeare