In his tribute to Shakespeare on the publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays in 1623, Ben Jonson addresses him as ‘Sweet Swan of Avon’, ‘Thou Star of Poets’ and ‘Not of an Age, but for all Time’. Now, 400 years after Shakespeare’s death, his words still have the power to thrill, to move, to uplift the soul. In fact, it’s said that a Shakespeare play is being performed somewhere in the world every minute of every day. In this lecture, we explore what is known about his life in the turbulent and often dangerous world of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, and look at the development of English Renaissance theatre. We will also focus on some of the portraits purporting to be of Shakespeare and examine the theories behind them.
Elizabeth Merry has more than 30 years’ experience lecturing in the UK, Europe and Australasia on various subjects including literature and poetry, classical art and architecture, and aspects of the visual arts. Elizabeth is a lecturer for The Arts Society.