Why is so little known about William Shakespeare?He has written many plays. Someone so famous would surely have been interviewed and life chronicled. Why do historians know so little about him?
Written record-keeping was a rare commodity during the 16th and early 17th centuries--the time of Shakespeare's life. What little information we have about Shakespeare came from surviving documents such as marriage records, property records, etc. For example, there is little information known about The Bard's life between the birth of his twins in 1585 and 1592, when he is documented as being a part of the London theatre scene. Shakespeare's plays were not widely distributed until after his death, and one must remember that Shakespeare did not gain his great status and popularity until several hundred years later. No surviving portraits of Shakespeare survive, if, indeed, any were ever made. There is mention of Shakespeare in other people's letters and correspondence, but unlike today, we are not able to trace his daily (or even yearly) activities.