Shakespeare’s Life and Theatre
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It is sometimes said that we don’t know a great deal about Shakespeare’s life. It is even suggested that someone of modest background and without benefit of a university education could not possibly be the author of the plays which appeared under the name ‘William Shakespeare’ during his lifetime and which, seven years after his death, were collected together by two life-long friends into a single folio (1623). In fact, we know a very great deal about Shakespeare, especially as compared with other dramatists of that time who wrote outstanding plays but who are little more than shadows – Webster and Tourneur, for example. If we jump ahead nearly four centuries, a handy comparison might be made with a twentieth-century author about whom we might expect to know all. Yet, for example, there are surprisingly large gaps in our knowledge of George Orwell’s time in Burma and Paris from 1922 to 1929.
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