William Shakespeare was born into Tudor England 500 years ago. He wrote some of the most famous plays in history. We tell the story of Hamlet and Ellie points out that this the same story as Disney’s The Lion King. We talk about how Shakespeare's plays are so famous that many people copy them and we watch them even today.
William Shakespeare's father was a glove maker and also leant people money. He sent his son William to a local school. There he would have learned reading, writing, Latin and lots of history. Many of the things that were later in his plays are things he would have learned at school.
When Shakespeare was 18 years old he met a girl called Anne. They got married and had a baby.
Shakespeare then disappears for seven years from history. The girls explore the things which might have happened to him. Did he have to run away because he was caught poaching? Did he go on holiday to Italy? Did he go to London to learn how to write plays?
By the time Shakespeare reappears, he is writing plays in London. We learn about what Tudor London was like – including some disgusting bits from our History of the Toilet episode.
The theatre is different then. All the parts are played by men – even women’s parts. Rich people pay for groups of people to write and act in plays. Shakespeare's friends are called the Lord Chamberlains company because the Lord Chamberlain pays for them.
Some people want the theatres to be shut down. They think God does want people to have so much fun. However, Queen Elizabeth like the theatre and she keeps the theatres open.
Shakespeare and his friends even build their own amazing theatre called the Globe theatre.
Then the Queen dies. Luckily, the new King, King James, also likes the theatre. In fact he likes Shakespeare and his friends so much that he agrees to pay for their plays. Now they are called the Kings Company. King James is very interested in witches so Shakespeare makes a play about witches, called Macbeth.
However, Shakespeare wants to retire and go home to Anne. One of his last plays is called the Tempest and it is about a powerful magician who wants to stop being a magician. Ellie points out that this is like Shakespeare being an amazing writer of plays but wanting to stop.
Then there is an accident in one of his plays. The Globe Theatre burns down. At that point, Shakespeare really has had enough. He stops writing plays and goes back to Stratford to be with Anne.
However, we still remember him and watch his plays today.
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