William 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
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
William Shakespeare - purchase
Please Note: All
prices are in New Zealand Dollars
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
to you by:
||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.