Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Drawing on contemporary documents, none later than 1635, as well as on numerous secondary sources, Marchette Chute traces William Shakespeare’s life chronologically, from his father’s coming to Stratford from Snitterfield sometime in the mid-1500’s to the publication of the First Folio in 1623, seven years after the play-wright’s death. The first of Shakespeare of London’s three appendices examines the sonnets, especially the first 126, which are addressed to a young man; Chute argues that the poet uses terms of friendship conventional for the time but denies that the identity of the youth can be determined. Appendix 2, “The Legends,” debunks late seventeenth and early eighteenth century stories that arose about Shakespeare and rejects romantic tales of his deer-poaching or holding horses in front of London’s theaters in the 1580’s. A third appendix considers the canon; Chute apparently denies that Pericles belongs among Shakespeare’s works. A ten-page bibliography concludes the volume.

Although Shakespeare’s life is better documented than those of almost all of his contemporaries, many gaps remain. For example, little is known of his first twenty-eight years: He was christened on April 26, 1564 (birthdate unknown); married Anne Hathaway on November 30 or December 1, 1582; became father to Susannah (1583) and the twins Hamnet and Judith (1585); and by 1592 was acting and probably writing in London. Chute devotes...

(The entire section is 577 words.)