...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
Me in a nutshell!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Bard Unveiled~pt III of The Life and Times of Will Shakespeare

In early 2009 a great discovery was made. An original portrait of William Shakespeare was found adorning the walls of Newbridge House, home base of the Cobbe family outside Dublin. It had be languishing there for centuries. One day in early 2009 Alec Cobbe was visiting the National Portrait Gallery in London. It was during this visit that he noticed quite a resemblance of the man in the portrait in his home and a certain portrait of Shakespeare in the Gallery.

He was so certain that this was one and same man he contacted Professor Wells, a famous Shakespeare scholar. Upon seeing the portrait Professor Wells was convinced himself of it's authenticity, especially after finding out that Cobbe's portrait was inherited through his cousin’s marriage to the great granddaughter of Shakespeare’s only literary patron, Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton.

The portrait was put through all manner of testing possible. As a result Professor Wells and other Shakespearean scholars were convinced that this was the Bard himself. The portrait is now on display in the museum next to Shakespeare's home on Henley street in Stratford.

It is believed the Shakespeare's retired in Straford around 1613. There are no plays attributed to him after this date. He and Anne returned to Straford as a wealthy couple. While driving on the bus down the main street of Stratford last summer it was pointed out to us certain Tudoresque type buildings along the street that were built by Shakespeare as retirement homes. He was very concerned about the elderly that didn't have family. He wanted make sure that they had assisted living provided for them in their later years. I was just blown away by this information. It was just such a forward thinking idea for the time period. To me this information says volumes about the character of this man.

Shakespeare died 23 April 1616 at the age of 52. He is buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. He left the bulk of his estate to his eldest daughter Susanna and one third of his estate along with his second best bed to his wife Anne. Second best bed refers to the matrimonial bed.

As it seems with such great artists, Shakespeare was not revered in his lifetime. He did have success and died a wealthy man. But he had his critics. Over the years there has been much speculation regarding his life and works, such as; Was he gay? Was he really a Catholic during a Protestant reign? Did he really write all of his work, or was it written by another who just used his name? Volumes have been written concerning the above controversies, too much information to share on one little blog. My take is that the Bard was married, had children, was a literary genius, and no saint. He wrote 17 comedies, 10 historical plays, 10 tragedies, and any number of sonnets and poems. He has been the foremost influence in English literature and theatre for the last 400 + years.

My favorite well known quotes by Will are as follows:

All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances,And one man in his time plays many parts,His acts being seven ages. ~ As You Like It.

This above all: to thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!~ Hamlet

Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrowsDoth with their death bury their parents' strife~ Romeo and Juliet

You would be surprised at how many Shakespeare isms we use in our daily life:

  • A pound of flesh
  • A sorry sight
  • An itching palm
  • Bated breath
  • Budge an inch
  • For goodness sake
  • Good riddance
  • Heart on my sleeve
  • In my heart of hearts
  • In my mind's eye
  • It smells to high heaven
  • Knock, Knock! Who's there?
  • The milk of human kindness.

These are just a few in over 200 famous quotes from Shakespeare's works. I am sure you recognise these quotes, and like me have used them in conversation many times.

I have so enjoyed this past week posting about Mr. Will!!! Really as a man in literature I revere him. All of this came about because of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event promoting the newly released O Juliet by Robin Maxwell. I look forward to our continued events over this year and hope you will all check often to see what is coming up.


  1. Goodness I am so sick of it being a CONTROVERSY if someone is gay.. or what religion they are. I understand it being different back in the day.. but it still is brought up.
    I found that story about the unknown painting very intriguing! And I loved all these posts on the "Bard." =)
    There is so much to be known about him that I wish they taught HIM instead of HIS WORKS in high school.

  2. Oh how I love Shakespeare! This was a wonderful post. I absolutely adore this painting...I always thought he probably really was handsome =O)

    Shakespeare was a genius and no manner of sniping by anyone will ever convince me otherwise!

  3. Wow that is amazing! Is it not cool when some mysterious art work just pops up like that. Very interesting no wonder I had never seen it before.

    I can not believe Knock knock, came from him. My husband is working on Macbeth right now and he had no idea that toil toil boil and bubble came from Shakespeare.

  4. I think this is my favorite of the three posts on Shakespeare. Very interesting that he cared about the elderly, and that he died so young. And it always blows my mind to learn all the phrases that we use in our everyday lives come from him. While I don't consider myself a Shakespeare nut, I am still overawed at his brilliance and prolific career. Thank you for this terrific series of posts!

  5. Wow, I didn't know all of those phrases were first used by Shakespeare. Very intriguing! Strange the man who owned the painting had not recognized the portrait earlier... I think his image is ingrained in young people's mind during middle & high school.

  6. I love the new look, Susie!! Well done!

  7. First off, let me tell you that I love the new look! The header is great!

    Susie, I so enjoyed your posts on Will and am wanting to learn more - he's fascinating! And I never realized that all of those phrases we use today are attributed to him...I speak Shakespeare on a daily basis ;-)

  8. Questions, questions! Shakespeare is shakespeare and lets leave it at that! A timeless icon:) Wonderful, wonderful post Susie! I love that you included those Shakespeare isms:)

    I learned so mucch- Thanks!!

    BTW, the blog is gorgeous and suits your style perfectly:)

  9. I was so glad to read this super post! I fell in love with Shakespeare at the age of 12 and have loved him ever since. If Stanley Wells says the portrait is Will's, then it must be but I think the NY Times said that it was likely sort of "retouched" so that he would look like the ideal Elizabethan man. I agree with that. I wrote 2 novels with Shakespeare as character but they are written in semi-Elizabethan English (I had a very scholarly editor at W.W. Norton) and thus rather different than my upcoming "Claude & Camille."

  10. I agree Stephanie about the retouching. Kind of like air brushing today. Regardless it's a timeless treasure that's for sure. Looking forward to Claude & Camille.

  11. He thought of the elderly how sweet? I'm sure he wasn't a saint but who was in those days. I have a new found appreciation for the Bard now. And I do use a lot of his isms daily.

    btw, I like the new design scheme here on your blog. Very lovely and suits you well.

  12. I love how with this new Portrait painted during his lifetime, it is proof that he did actually exist. No more nay sayers!

  13. I loved all of your Shakespeare posts!


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