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Original Bard portrait unveiled Original Bard portrait unveiled

A portrait of William Shakespeare thought to be the only picture made of the playwright during his lifetime has been unveiled in London.

It is believed the artwork dates back to 1610, six years before Shakespeare's death at the age of 52.


Brief History of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in a house in Henley Street. This is preserved intact. His mother, Mary Arden, was one of the daughters of Robert Arden, a yeoman farmer of Wilmcote: his father, John Shakespeare, was a glover and wool dealer of good standing who held the office of Bailiff of the Borough in 1568.

Brief History of William ShakespeareFrom the age of seven to about 14, he attended Stratford Grammar School receiving an excellent well rounded education. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who was seven years his senior and three months pregnant. She was of 'yeoman' stock - her family owned a farm one mile west of Stratford in Shottery. He endured her until he could stand it no longer and fled to London to become an actor. He then became actor-manager and part-owner in the Blackfriars and afterwards the Globe Theatres. He was a first-rate actor, but it is as a writer of plays that he has achieved lasting world-wide fame. His plays are thought to be the finest ever written in any language.

His 37 plays vary in type; historical romances, light, fantastic comedies, some are tragedies, all including the comical and the farcical. He was a shrewd business man, amassing quite a fortune in his time. He returned to Stratford for his latter years where he died at the age of 52 and now lies at rest in his special grave at Holy Trinity Church.

Globe theatre

Brief History of William ShakespeareThe lease of the original 'Theatre' where Shakespeare and the Chamberlain's men performed, expired

Burbage tried to re-negotiate the lease with the owner Giles Allen. Allen was a strict Protestant, a Puritan, who totally disapproved of Theatres and Actors! He refused to allow them to extend the lease

Burbage, Shakespeare and the company of actors had no alternative but to move out of the 'Theatre' and set up at the nearby Curtain Theatre

All negotiations for a new tenancy agreement failed with Giles Allen. He had decided to pull the 'Theatre' down and use the materials to build a new property. The company of actors had different ideas!

Apparently a clause in the original agreement allowed them to dismantle the Theatre and make use of the building materials themselves!

This is exactly what they did! The players decided to demolish the Theatre and transport the timber to a their new site on Bankside in Southwark

Giles Allen was furious! But he could do nothing and the timbers and other material from the old Theatre were used to build the new Globe Theatre


The Globe theatre was built by a carpenter called Peter Smith together with his workforce

They started in 1597 and it was finished in 1598

The Globe was built in a similar style to the Coliseum, but on a smaller scale. Never-the-less it still had an audience capacity of over 1500 people and this amount increased to 3000 when people mingling outside the grounds

To announce the opening of the new theatre, the Chamberlain’s Men flew a flag featuring the figure of Hercules carrying a Globe on his shoulders

Colour coded flags were used to announce all other performances

A black flag announced a tragedy , white a comedy and red a history

A white flag announced a comedy

A red flag announced a history


The structure of the globe was as follows:

An octagonal, open air arena about 100 feet in diameter

It was made of timber, plaster with thatched roofs

The arena was called the 'pit' or the 'yard' and had a raised stage at one end which projected halfway into the 'pit'

The arena was surrounded by three tiers of roofed galleries with balconies

There were two sets of stairs

There was no heating but there was some artificial lighting

A roofed structure, which looked like a house, was at the rear of the stage containing props, was supported by two large, ornate pillars called the 'Hut'

The pillars supported a roof which was called the ' Heavens ' from which actors would hide and make dramatic flying entrances

Behind the pillars was the stage wall called the ' Frons Scenae ' taken from Latin

Above the stage wall was the stage gallery that was used by actors, musicians and rich patrons - known as ' the Lord's rooms. to the left and right were the 'Gentlemen's Rooms'

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