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Assess the role that London played in the life of any prominent man or woman before 1830.

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Introduction

Assess the role that London played in the life of any prominent man or woman before 1830. Shakespeare in London "Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on or about April 23, 1564. His father was a merchant who devoted himself to public service, attaining the highest of Stratford's municipal positions - that of bailiff and justice of the peace - by 1568." (Poet's Corner - Biography) Not much is known about William's childhood, although it is safe to assume that he attended the local grammar school, the King's New School, which was staffed with a faculty who held Oxford degrees, and a curriculum that included mathematics, natural sciences, Latin language and rhetoric, logic, Christian ethics, and classical literature. He did not attend the university, which was not unusual at this time, since university education was reserved for prospective clergymen and was not a particularly mind-opening experience. However, the education he received at grammar school was excellent, as proven by the numerous classical and literary references in his plays. In 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Ann Hathaway of Stratford, a woman eight years his senior. Their first daughter, Susanna, was baptized only six months later, which has given rise to much speculation concerning the circumstances surrounding the marriage. ...read more.

Middle

Professional theatre didn't emerge till the late 16th century when they were often in the rough area, near brothels etc, which is part of the reason that theatres came under attack. "There was a puritan movement in England, which was particularly strong in the city of London. The city Fathers disapproved of any form of playacting, regarding it as a the enactment of falsehoods." (Cathcart Borer, 1984, p12) Plays were often interpreted in a bad way, and in 1575 the lord mayor banned all players from performing within the city limits. The following year "The Theatre" was built in Shoreditch, safely outside the city limits - theatre was a very risky trade, but if you were successful you could be rich, and if it weren't for the rich and elite including Queen Elizabeth theatre may not have thrived during such judgmental times. It was money that kept Shakespeare writing and London that provided it; therefore London was essential to Shakespear's career. London was different to any other nation, the distinct difference being that the population of London had a much higher literacy rate. Simply put Londoners had the intelligence to appreciate theatre and the knowledge to understand it, compared to provincial and rural counterparts. "London could provide the playhouses with exceptionally high numbers of literate urban workers, as well as a huge population of the unemployed, and by far the greatest concentration of gentry and rich citizenry in the country. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shakespeare's success in the London theatres made him wealthy and in 1597 he bought one of the largest houses in Stratford for his parents. Although his professional career was spent in London, he maintained close links with his native town. Further property investments in Stratford followed, including the purchase of 107 acres of land in 1602. In 1596 Shakespeare's father was granted a coat-of-arms, and upon his death in 1601 Shakespeare inherited the arms and the right to style himself a gentleman, even though, at the time, actors were generally regarded as rogues and vagabonds. From around 1611 Shakespeare seems largely to have disengaged himself from the London theatre world and to have spent his time at his Stratford house. William Shakespeare lived until 1616; he was buried in the chancel of his church at Stratford. During the 17th century printing was also a large business in London as opposed to the rest of England. If it hadn't been for the popularity of printing in London Shakespeare's plays would not have survived, as so many playwrights before him are still unknown today. In 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, the first collected edition of his plays, was published. It contains thirty-six plays, about half of which had been published individually in his lifetime. His plays were still performed after his death especially in the 18th century, and the tradition continues. Even to this day Shakespeare lives through printing. ...read more.

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