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Anthony Barrs

Shakespeare – The Awakening Years

There have been thousands of books written about William Shakespeare in the last four hundred years. But very few about his formative years in Stratford — upon — Avon in Warwickshire.
His date of birth in 1564 is known from the parish records of The Holy
Trinity Church in Stratford as are the births of his daughter Elizabeth in 1583, his twins Hamnet and Judith in 1585 and his burial in 1616. In the Worcester Cathedral Diocese records, there is an entry for a special licence in November 1582 for the marriage of William Shakespeare to Anne Whatley. This appears to be a mistake as it was amended to Anne Hathaway. It would appear from the inscription on Anne Hathaway's grave in the Holy Trinity Church that she was eight years older than William. Because of the dearth of any further documentation until the first reference to a play by him in London in 1592 the years until this date are referred to by academia as the Lost Years. Besides being a self-employed glover his father was a long-time servant of the town council, eventually becoming High Bailiff; so William would have been entitled to attend the King Edward VI grammar school where he would have been taught Latin and Rhetoric. His father ran into financial difficulties when he was about thirteen years of age when he would have had to leave school. The idea for this book came from reading E.A.J. Honigmann's book Shakespeare; 'The Lost Years' in which he makes a strong case for him spending time in Lancashire as a teacher; and Mark Eccles's book, Shakespeare in Warwickshire which is a mine of detailed information on Shakespeare's contemporaries in Stratford. It was the short step from reading these books, and many more, to imagining his life as a boy: through his teenage years, thinking about girls and wondering about his future. The healthy interest in sex he shows
in his plays as an adult would no doubt have been stimulated by encounters in his teenage years. My story ends with his marriage to Anne Hathaway and his eventual escape to London.
795 printed pages
Copyright owner
M-Y Books
Original publication
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