Shakespeare was born on or near April 23 1564, in
Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The third child of John Shakespeare, a leather
merchant, and Mary Arden, a local landed heiress, he had two older sisters
and three younger brothers. Scant records exist of William's childhood,
and virtually none regarding his education.
Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, from Shottery
near Stratford, in 1582. He was 18 and she was 26 and pregnant. Their
daughter, Susanna, was born in 1583 and two years later, twins Hamnet and
Judith were born.
After the birth of the twins, there are seven years of Shakespeare's life
where no records exist. Scholars call this period the "lost years," and
there is wide speculation on what he was doing during this period. By 1592,
there is evidence he earned a living as an actor and a playwright in London
and possibly had several plays produced. He became a managing partner in the
Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company in London. The company proved
popular, and records show that Shakespeare had works published and sold as
popular literature. Early in his career, Shakespeare was able to attract the
attention of Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, to whom he
dedicated his first- and second-published poems: "Venus and Adonis" (1593)
and "The Rape of Lucrece" (1594).
By 1597, 15 of the 37 plays written by Shakespeare were published and by
1599 Shakespeare and his business partners built their own theatre on the
south bank of the Thames River, which they called the Globe.
William Shakespeare's early plays were written in the conventional style of
the day, with elaborate metaphors and rhetorical phrases that didn't always
align naturally with the story's plot or characters. He was however, very
innovative, adapting the traditional style to his own purposes and creating
a freer flow of words. With the exception of Romeo and Juliet, his first
plays were mostly histories written in the early 1590s. Richard II, Henry V
and Henry VI dramatize the destructive results of weak or corrupt rulers.
Shakespeare also wrote several comedies during his early period: the witty
romance A Midsummer Night's Dream, the romantic Merchant of Venice, the wit
and wordplay of Much Ado About Nothing, the charming As You Like It and
Twelfth Night. Other plays, possibly written before 1600, include Titus
Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew and The Two
Gentlemen of Verona. It was in Shakespeare's later period, after 1600, that
he wrote the tragedies Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth. In these, his
characters present vivid impressions of human temperament that are timeless
and universal. Possibly the best known of these plays is Hamlet, which
explores betrayal, retribution, incest and moral failure. Shakespeare's
final period saw him write several tragi-comedies. Among these are
Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. Though graver in tone than the
comedies, they are not the dark tragedies of King Lear or Macbeth because
they end with reconciliation and forgiveness. It is believed that
Shakespeare died on his birthday, April 23, 1616. Church records show he was
interred at Trinity Church on April 25, 1616.
For centuries after his death, questions have
arisen, because of the sketchy details of Shakespeare's life, about the
authorship of his plays. Scholars and literary critics began to float names
like Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere and Francis Bacon - men of more
known backgrounds, literary accreditation, or inspiration—as the true
authors of the plays. Sceptics also questioned how anyone of such modest
education could write with the intellectual perceptiveness and poetic power
that is displayed in Shakespeare's works. However, the vast majority of
Shakespearean scholars contend that Shakespeare was a respected man of the
dramatic arts who wrote his own plays and acted in some in the late 16th and
early 17th centuries. His reputation as a dramatic genius however wasn't
recognized until the 19th century beginning with the Romantic period of the
early 1800s and continuing through the Victorian period.
Today, his plays are highly popular and constantly studied and
re-interpreted in performances with diverse cultural and political contexts.
The genius of Shakespeare's characters and plots are that they present real
human beings in a wide range of emotions and conflicts that transcend their
origins in Elizabethan England.
Within four decades of its foundation in 1856, upwards of 60 portraits
were offered for sale to the National Portrait Gallery in London
purporting to be of Shakespeare but there are only two definitively
accepted as portraying him, both of which are posthumous. One is the
engraving that appears on the cover of the First Folio (1623) and the
other is the sculpture that adorns his memorial in Stratford upon Avon.
The Chandos Portrait (used in this stamp issue) is attributed to John
Taylor and dated to about 1610. The name arose as it was once in the
possession of the Duke of Chandos. The Cobbe portrait discovered in 2006
is still being debated as to whether or not it is William Shakespeare.
Please Note: All prices are in New Zealand Dollars
|Strip of 4 stamps with central tab
|First Day Cover with stamp strip
Acknowledgement: The Bureau thanks the
National Portrait Gallery, London for allowing use of the Chandos image.
NPG 1 William Shakespeare associated with John Taylor oil on canvas,
feigned oval, circa 1610 © National Portrait Gallery, London.
|Lucas Kukler, Bangkok, Thailand
| Pitcairn Stamps
||Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand
||37.5 mm x 36.95 mm vertical
||Four semi setenant stamps with separate central tab.
||14.40 x 14.615
||$1.00, $1.80, $2.00 and $2.20.
||103gsm Tullis Russell Yellow/Green phosphor stamp paper
|Period of Sale:
|9 March 2016 for a period of 2 years.