How Much Do You Know About Shakespeare’s Life?


February 1, 2012

1. Shakespeare’s father John rose to the highest elective position in Stratford. What was his position?

2. When Anne Hathaway married Shakespeare, what was her physical condition?

3. Elizabethan theatergoers could purchase apples and pears to eat during the performances. What other function did these fruits serve?

4. What kind of scenery and set design was typical during Shakespeare’s time?

5. In 1613, the Globe theater burned to the ground. What caused the fire?

6. Shakespeare revised his will the year he died. Who received the bulk of his real estate? Who received only his “second best bed” with the bedclothing?

7. Half of his plays would have been lost forever after he died but for one occurrence. What was this occurrence?

Answers:

1.  Shakespeare’s father John rose to the highest elective position in Stratford. What was his position?

Shakespeare’s father, John, was a glover and leather-worker who rose through a series of positions of authority until, in 1568, he became high bailiff, the highest elective office in Stratford. In the 1570s, John Shakespeare was prosecuted (or threatened with prosecution) four times for the illegal activities of trading in wool and money-lending.

2. When Anne Hathaway married Shakespeare, what was her physical condition?

In November 1582, Shakespeare applied for a license to marry Anne Hathaway, whom he married on or about November 30. She was three months pregnant at the time.

3. Elizabethan theatergoers could purchase apples and pears to eat during the performances. What other function did these fruits serve?


These snacks were often thrown at the actors by dissatisfied members of the audience.

4. What kind of scenery was typically used onstage during plays?

In Shakespeare’s time, theaters had no curtain and used little or no scenery. Playwrights described the setting within the text of the performance. 

5. In 1613, the Globe theater burned to the ground. What caused the fire?

The Globe burned to the ground on June 29, 1613, set fire by a cannon shot during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII.

6. He revised his will the year he died? Who received the bulk of his real estate? Who received his “second best bed” with the bedclothing?

In his will, he left most of his real estate to his daughter Susanna. A statement was inserted between the lines in the will, which said: “I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture.” The “furniture” was the bedclothes for the bed. This is all he left his wife in his will, and the only time she was mentioned.

7. Half of his plays would have been lost forever after he died but for one occurence. What happened?


His dear friends John Hemings and Henry Condell published his plays seven years after his death. They said they had gathered his works “only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend, and fellow alive, as was our Shakespeare.”    


Had they not done this, according to Kate Pogue, half the plays Shakespeare wrote would have been lost forever.

Kate Pogue’s class begins on Thursday mornings at 10:00-12:00 starting February 2, 2012.