Nobody knows exactly when or why William Shakespeare left his boyhood home of Stratford-on-Avon for the great city of London, but it didn’t take long for him to make a name for himself. His plays are now performed almost every day in just about every part of the world, and even people who’ve never seen them, use words and phrases he introduced into the English language.
How did a man from an unremarkable family create a legacy that the world will never forget? There will always be unsolved mysteries about Shakespeare, but what we do know of his life, and his theater makes a dramatic and exciting story.
Drama had been forgotten since the days of ancient Greece, but it reemerged in Elizabethan London with the building of the first modern theater. Its impact can still be imagined today. There were the theaters, open to the weather and featuring neither sets nor curtains, but equipped with dramatic special effects. There were the companies of actors-the leading men, the comedians, the boys who played women’s roles-and the playwrights who gave them all lines to say.
Best of all, there was William Shakespeare, who rubbed shoulders with noblemen and royalty as well as with the rowdy crowds at the foot of the stage. He was suspected of involvement in a treasonous rebellion, and his last play literally brought down the house when cannon effects set fire to the famous Globe theater and it burned to the ground.
Award-winning collaborators Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema have once again created a feast of words and pictures to celebrate the life of a remarkable person from the pages of history: “William Shakespeare, a man for all time.”