FORMING A COMPANION VOLUME
NATIONAL EDITION OF THE PICTORIAL SHAKSPERE.
BY CHARLES KNIGHT.
CHARLES KNIGHT, FLEET STREET.
ROLLS PRINTING OFFICK.
THIS is a re-publication, with many alterations of arrangement, and some modifi-
cations of opinion grounded upon new information, of a volume published in 1843.
That book has befcn long out of print ; and it is a gratification to me to re-produce
it in a cheap form.
In the original advertisement I said, " Every Life of Shakspere must, to a certain
extent, be conjectural; and all the Lives that have been written are conjectural.
This ' Biography ' is only so far more conjectural than any other, as regards the form
which it assumes, by which it has been endeavoured to associate Shakspere with the
circumstances around him, in a manner which may fix them in the mind of the
reader by exciting his interest." I quoted the opinion of Steevens " All that is
known with any degree of certainty concerning Shakspere is, that he was born at
Stratford-upon-Avon married, and had children there went to London, where he
commenced actor and wrote poems and plays returned to Stratford, made his will,
died, and was buried." I pointed out that this was exaggeration, but I somewhat
hastily termed it " slight exaggeration." I fully agree with Mr. Hunter, with regard
to the want of information on the life of Shakspere, that he is, in this respect,
in the state in which most of his contemporary poets are Spenser for instance but
with this difference, that we do know more concerning Shakspere than we know of
most of his contemporaries of the same class. Admitting this sound reasoning, I
still believe that the attempt which I ventured to make, for the first time in English
Literature, to write a Biography which, in the absence of Diaries and Letters,
should surround the known facts with the local and temporary circumstances, and
with the social relations amidst which one of so defined a position must have moved,
was not a freak of fancy a " Burlesque" as one critic has been pleased to call it, but
an approximation to the truth, which could not have been reached by a mere
documentary narrative. I venture to think that I have made the course of Shakspere
clear and consistent, without any extravagant theories, and with some successful
resistance to long received prejudices. If there were faults of taste in the original
attempt, I have endeavoured to correct them, in this edition, to the best of my
MARCH 1, 1850.
CONTENTS AND ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Half-Title to Book I. Infant Shakspere, after Romney 1
CHAPTER I. ANCESTRY.
2. Arms of John Shakspere . .314. Church of Aston Cantlow . . 8
3. Village of Wilmecote . . 6 |
CHAPTER II. STRATFORD.
5. Clopton's Bridge . . . .9(6. Snitterfield, 15
CHAPTER III. THE REGISTER.
7. Ancient Font, formerly in Stratford
8. Fac-simile of baptismal register of
W. Shakspere . . . .17
9. The Church Avenue 18
10. Stratford Church . . . .19
11. John Shakspere's House in Henley
12. Room in the House in Henley Street 23
CHAPTER IV. THE SCHOOL.
13. Inner Court of the Grammar School 24 I 15. Chapel of the Guild, and Grammar
14. Interior of the Grammar School . 30 | School : Street Front . . .31
CHAPTER V. THE SCHOOLBOY'S WORLD.
16. Village of Aston Cantlow . . 33 | 17. The Fair 38
CHAPTER VI. HOLIDAYS.
18. The Boundary Elm, Stratford . 40 I 20. Bidford Bridge . . . .46
19. Shottery 45 | 21. Clopton House .... 50
CHAPTER VII. KENILWORTH
22. Chimney-piece in Gatehouse, at
Kenil worth . . . .51
23. Queen Elizabeth . . . .52
24. Entrance to the Hall, Kenilworth . 53
25. Earl of Leicester . . . .56
CONTENTS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
CHAPTER VIII. PAGEANTS.
26. Coventry Cross . . . . 57 | 27. St. Mary's Hall, Coventry : Street
CHAPTER IX. THE FIEESIDE.
28. Fireside in the House in Henley | 29. The Fireside. . . . .68
Street . 64
30. Half-Title to Book II. 69
CHAPTER I. A CALLING.
31. Stratford Church and Mill. From an original Drawing at the beginning of the last
CHAPTER II. THE PLAYERS AT STRATFORD.
32. The Bailiff's Play . . . . 78 | 33. Thomas Sackville .... 83
CHAPTER III. LIVING IN THE PAST.
34. Guy's Cliff in the 17th Century . 84
35. Tomb of King John, Worcester . 87
37. Ancient Statue of Guy at Guy's Cliff 90
38. St. Mary's Hall: Court Front . . 92
36. Bridge at Evesham
CHAPTER IV. YORK AND LANCASTER.
39. St. Mary's Hall : Interior . . 94 I 41. Leicester Abbey . . . .103
40. Entrance to Warwick Castle . 98 |
CHAPTER V. RUINS, NOT or TIME.
42. Evesham : the Bell Tower . . 104
43. Chapter-House, Gateway . . 106
44. Old House : Evesham . . .107
45. Bengeworth Church, 'seen through
the Arch of the Bell Tower . Ill
CHAPTER VI. THE WAKE.
46. Welford: the Wake 112
CHAPTER VII. CHARLCOTE.
47. Charlcote Church .... 117 I 49. Charlcote House : from Avenue . 121
48. Deer Barn : Fulbrooke . . . 120 | 50. Charlcote House : from the Avon . 122
CHAPTER VIII. SPORTS.
51. Daisy Hill 125
52. Ingon Hill 128
54. The Crab Tree . . . .132
55. Bidford Grange . . . .134
53. Marl Cliffs : near Bidford . 128 bis*
* By an error of the Printer, 127 and 128 have been numbered twice.
CONTENTS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
CHAPTER IX. SOLITARY HOUES.
56. Hampton Lucy : from Road near
Alveston . . . . 137
57. Meadows near Welford . . .140
58. Near Alveston 144
59. Old Church of Hampton Lucy . 145
60. A Peep at Charlcote . . . 146
61. Below Charlcote .... 147
62. Near Alveston 149
CHAPTER X. THE TROTHPLIGHT AND THE WEDDING.
63. Hampton Lucy : Old Church . 150 | 65. House in Charlcote Village . . 159
64. Shottery Cottage . . . .152
66. Half-Title to Book III 163
CHAPTER I. LEAVING HOME.
67. Clifford Church 165
Note . 174
CHAPTER II, A NEW PLAY.
68. A Play at the Blackfriars 175
CHAPTER III. THE ONLY SHAKE- SCENE.
69. Old London 184
CHAPTER IV. THE MIGHTY HEART.
70. Funeral of Sydney . . . 199 | 71. Camp at Tilbury . . . .201
CHAPTER V. LEISURE.
72. Richmond 210
73. St. James's 211
74. Somerset House .... 213
75. Merry Wives of Windsor, performed
before Elizabeth at Windsor . 220
76. Windsor . 221
CHAPTER VI. THE GLOBE.
77. The Globe Theatre . . .222
78. Entry in Parish Register of Strat-
ford of the Burial of Hamnet
Shakspere . . . .227
79. Seal and Autograph of Susanna
80. Autograph of Judith Shakspere . 228
81. Lord Southampton . . .231
CHAPTER VII. EVIL DAYS.
82. Essex House . . . . 232 I 84. Fac- simile pf the Register of the
83. Earl of Essex . . . . 238 | Burial of John Shakspere . . 240
CHAPTER VIII. DID SHAKSPERE VISIT SCOTLAND.
85. Edinburgh in the 17th Century . 241 I 87. James the Sixth of Scotland and
86. Dunsinane 244 First of England . . .249
CONTENTS AND ILLUSTEATIONS.
Half-Title to Book IV 251
CHAPTER I. GLIMPSES OF SOCIETY.
Jonson . . . . . 253 | 90. Thomas Dekker .... 267
CHAPTER II. LABOURS AND REWARDS.
91. Hall of the Middle Temple . . 268
92. Interior of the Temple Church . 270
93. Harefield 272
94. Tenement at Stratford . . 273
95. Funeral of Queen Elizabeth . 274
96. William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke 276
97. Philip Herbert, Earl of Mont-
98. Wolsey's Hall, Hampton Court . 278
99. Banqueting-House, Whitehall . 279
CHAPTER III. REST.
100. The Garden of New Place . . 281
101. Monument of Sir Thomas Lucy . '289
102. The CoUege . . . .291
103. Ancient Hall in the CoUege . 292
104. Fac-simile of entry hi Parish
Register of the Marriage of John
105. Signature of Dr. Hall . . .295
106. House in the High Street, Strat-
107. Bishopton Chapel . . . 297
108. Foot-bridge above the Mill . . 298
109. Stratford Church . . 299
Hall and Susanna Shakspere . 295
CHAPTER IV. VISITS TO LONDON.
110. The Bear Garden 300
CHAPTER V. THE LAST BIRTHDAY.
111. Chancel of Stratford Church . 308
112. Monument of John Combe . . 310
113. Weston Church . . . .312
114. Signature of Thomas Quiney . 312
115. Fac-simile of entry in Parish
Register of the Burial of Wil-
liam Shakspere . . .316
I. SHAKSPERE'S WILL.
116. Monument at Stratford 3J9
II. SOME POINTS OF SHAKSPERE'S WILL.
117. Fac-simile of Register of the Burial
of Mrs. Shakspere . . .323
118. Ditto of Susanna Hall . . .323
III. THE AUTOGRAPHS OF SHAKSPERE.
121. Fac-simile of Autographs, as Frontispiece.
IV. STRATFORD REGISTERS.
V. THE PORTRAITS OF SHAKSPERE.
119. Ditto of Judith Quiney . . 324
120. Signature of Eliza Barnard . 324
I Infant Shaksp*re.)
I Arras of John Shakspere.l
ON the 22nd of August, 1485, there was a battle fought for the crown of England,
a short battle ending in a decisive victory. In that field a crowned king, " manfully
fighting in the middle of his enemies, was slain and brought to his death;" and a
politic adventurer put on the crown, which the immediate descendants of his house
wore for nearly a century and a quarter. The battle-field was Bosworth. Two
months afterwards the Earl of Richmond was more solemnly crowned and anointed
at Westminster by the name of King Henry VII. ; arid " after this," continues the
chronicler, " he began to remember his especial friends and fautors, of whom some
he advanced to honour and dignity, and some he enriched with possessions and
goods, every man according to his desert and merit." * Was there hi that victo-
rious army of the Earl of Richmond, which Richard denounced as a " company of
traitors, thieves, outlaws, and runagates," an Englishman bearing the name of
Chacksper, or Shakespeyre, or Schakespere, or Schakespeire, or Shakespeyre, or
Schakspere, or Shakespere, or Shakspere,t a martial name, however spelt ?
" Breakspear, Shakespear, and the like, have been surnames imposed upon the first
bearers of them for valour and feats of arms." J Of the warlike achievements of
* Hall's Chronicle.
t A list of the brethren and sisters of the Guild of Knowle, near Rowington, in Warwickshire,
exhibits a great number of the name of Shakspere in that fraternity, from about 1460 to 1527 ; and
the names are spelt with the diversity here given, Shakspere being the latest.
t Verstegan's " Restitution," &c.
WILLIAM SHAKSPERE : A BIOGRAPHY. [BOOK I.
this Shakspcre there is no record : his name or his deeds would have no interest
for us unless there had been born, eighty years after this battle-day, a direct de-
scendant from him
" Whose muse, full of high thought's inventi
Doth like himself heroically sound ; " *
a Shakspcre, of whom it is also said
'* He seems to shake a lance
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance." f
A public document, bearing the date of 1599, affirms, upon "credible report," of
" John Shakspere, now of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gentle-
man," that his " parent, great-grandfather, and late antccessor, for his faithful and
approved service to the late most prudent prince King Henry VII. of famous
memory, was advanced and rewarded with lands and tenements, given to him in
those parts of Warwickshire, where they have continued by some descents in good
reputation and credit." Such is the recital of a grant of arms to John Shakspere,
the father of William Shakspere, which document refers to "his ancient coat of
arms, heretofore assigned to him, whilst he was her Majesty's officer and bailiff of
Stratford." In those parts of Warwickshire, then, lived and died, we may assume,
the faithful and approved servant of the " unknown Welshman," as Richard called
him, who won for himself the more equivocal name of " the most prudent prince."
He was probably advanced in years when Henry ascended the throne ; for in the
first year of Queen Elizabeth, 1558, his great-grandson, John Shakspere, was a
burgess of the corporation of Stratford, and was in all probability born about 1530.
The family had continued in those parts, we are assured, " by some descents ; " but
how they were occupied in the business of life, what was their station in society,
how they branched out into other lines of Shaksperes, we have no distinct record.
The name may be traced by legal documents in many parishes of Warwickshire ; but
we learn from a deed of trust executed in 1 550, by Robert Arden, the maternal grand-
father of William Shakspere, that Richard Shakspere was the occupier of land in
Snitterfield, the property of Robert Arden. At this parish of Snitterfield lived a
Henry Shakspere, who as we learn from a declaration in the Court of Record at Strat-
ford, was the brother of John Shakspere.IjI It is conjectured, and very reasonably,
that Richard Shakspere, of Snitterfield, was the paternal grandfather of William
Shakspere. Snitterfield is only three miles distant from Stratford. They probably
were cultivators of the soil, unambitious small proprietors.
Harrison, a painter of manners who comes near the time of John Shakspere, has
described the probable condition of his immediate ancestors : " Yeomen are those
which by our law are called legates homines, free men born English
The truth is, that the word is derived from the Saxon term zeoman, or geoman,
which signifieth (as I have read) a settled or staid man This sort of
people have a certain pre-eminence and more estimation than labourers and the
common sort of artificers."
But the grant of arms in 1599, opens another branch of inquiry into Shakspere's
ancestry. It says, " for that the said John Shakespere having married the daughter
and one of the heirs of Robert Arden of Wellingcote, [Wilmecote] and also produced
this his ancient coat of arms, we [the heralds] have likewise upon one other
escutcheon impaled the same with the ancient arms of the said Arden of Welling-
* Spenser. f Ben Jonson.
J See Halliwell's "Life of Shakspere," p. 8, and Collier's " Life," p. 62.
CHAP. I.] ANCESTRY.
cote." They add that John Shakspere, and his children, issue, and posterity, may
bear and use the same shield of arms, single or impaled.
The family of Arden was one of the highest antiquity in Warwickshire. Dugdale
traces its pedigree uninterruptedly up to the time of Edward the Confessor. Under
the head of Curd worth, a parish in the hundred of Hemlingford, he says " In this
place I have made choice to speak historically of that most ancient and worthy
family, whose surname was first assumed from their residence in this part of the
country, then and yet called Arden, by reason of its woodiness, the old Britons and
Gauls using the word in that sense." At the time of the Norman invasion there
resided at Warwick, Turchil, " a man of especial note and power " and of " great
possessions." In the Domesday Book his father, Alwyne, is styled vice comes.
Turchil, as well as his father, received favour at the hands of the Conqueror. He
retained the possession of vast lands in the shire, and he occupied Warwick Castle
as a military governor. He was thence called Turchil de Warwick by the Normans.
But Dugdale goes oil to say " He was one of the first here in England that, in
imitation of the Normans, assumed a surname, for so it appears that he did, and
wrote himself Turchittus de Eardene, in the days of King William Rufus." The
history of the De Ardens, as collected with wonderful industry by Dugdale, spreads
over six centuries. Such records seldom present much variety of incident, however
great and wealthy be the family to which they are linked. In this instance a
shrievalty or an attainder varies the register of birth and marriage, but generation
after generation passes away without leaving any enduring traces of its sojourn on
the earth. Fuller has not the name of a single De Arden amongst his " Worthies"
men illustrious for something more than birth or riches, with the exception of
those who swell the lists of sheriffs for the county. The pedigree which Dugdale
gives of the Arden family brings us no nearer in the direct line to the mother of
Shakspere than to Robert Arden, her great-grandfather : he was the third son of
Walter Ardeu, who married Eleanor, the daughter of John Hampden, of Buck-
inghamshire ; and he was brother to Sir John Arden, squire for the body to Henry
VII. Malone, with laudable industry, has continued the pedigree in the younger
branch. Robert's son, also called Robert, was groom of the chamber to Henry VII.
He appears to have been a favourite ; for he had a valuable lease granted him by
the king of the manor of Yoxsall, in Staffordshire, and was also made keeper of the
royal park of Aldercar. Robert Arden, the groom of the chamber, probably left the
court upon the death of his master. He married, and he had a son, also Robert,
who had a family of seven daughters. The youngest was Mary, the mother of
From the connection of these immediate ancestors of Shakspere's mother with
the court of Henry VII., Malone has assumed that they were the " antecessors "*
of John Shakspere declared to have been advanced and rewarded by the conqueror
of Bosworth Field. Because Robert Arden had a lease of the royal manor of Yoxsall,
in Staffordshire, Malone also contends that the reward of lands and tenements stated
in the grant of arms to have been bestowed upon the ancestor of John Shakspere
really means the beneficial lease to Robert Arden. He holds that popularly the
grandfather of Mary Arden would have been called the grandfather of John Shak-
spere, and that John Shakspere himself would have so called him. The answer is
very direct. The grant of arms recites that the greatgrandfather of John Shakspere
had been advanced and rewarded by Henry VII., and then goes on to say that John
* In a draft of the grant of arms, dated 1596, there are several variations from that of 1599.
Amongst others we have, " whose parents and late antecessors were for this valiant and faithful
service " instead of " parent, great-grandfather, and late antecesaor, for his faithful and approved
WILLIAM SHAKSPERE : A BIOGRAPHY.
Shakspere had married the daughter of Eobert Arden of Wellingcote : He has an
ancieiit coat-of-arms of his own derived from his ancestor, and the arms of his wife
are to be impaled with these his own arms. Can the interpretation of this docu-
ment then be that Mary Arden's grandfather is the person pointed out as John
Shakspere's grraz-grandfather ; and that, having an ancient coat-of-arms himself, his
ancestry is really that of his wife, whose arms are totally different 1
Mary Ardeii ! The name breathes of poetry. It seems the personification of
some Dryad of
" Many a huge-grown wood, and many a shady grove/'
called by that generic name of Arden, a forest with many towns,
*' Whose footsteps yet are found,
In her rough woodlands more than any other ground,
That mighty Arden held even in her height of pride,
Her one hand touching Trent, the other Severn's side." *
High as was her descent, wealthy and powerful as were the numerous branches of
her family, Mary Arden, we doubt not, led a life of usefulness as well as innocence,
within her native forest hamlet. Her father died in December, 1556. His will is
dated the 24th of November in the same year, and the testator styles himself
" Kobert Arden, of Wyhncote, in the paryche of Aston Cauntlow."
[Village of Wilmecote,]
The face of the country must have been greatly changed in three centuries. A
canal, with lock rising upon lock, now crosses the hill upon which the village stands ;
but traffic has not robbed the place of its green pastures and its shady nooks, though
nothing is left of the ancient magnificence of the great forest. There is very slight
Drayton. " Polyolb'on," 13th Song.
CHAP. I.] ANCESTRY.
appearance of antiquity about the present village, and certainly not a house in which
we can conceive that Robert Arden resided.
It was in the reign of Philip and Mary that Robert Arden died ; and we cannot
therefore be sure that the wording of his will is any absolute proof of his religious
opinions : " First, I bequeath my soul to Almighty God and to our blessed Lady
Saint Mary, and to all the holy company of heaven, and my body to be buried in
the churchyard of Saint John the Baptist in Aston aforesaid." Mary, his youngest
daughter, occupies the most prominent position in the will : " I give and bequeath
to my youngest daughter Mary all my land in "Wilmecote, called Asbies, and the
crop upon the ground, sown and tilled as it is, and six pounds thirteen shillings and
fourpence of money to be paid over ere my goods be divided," To his daughter
Alice he bequeaths the third part of all his goods, moveable and unmoveable, in
field and town : to his wife Agnes (the step-mother of his children) six pounds
thirteen shillings and fourpence, under the condition that she should allow his
daughter Alice to occupy half of a copyhold at Wilmecote, the widow having her
"jointure in Snitterfield." The remainder of his goods is divided amongst his other
children. Alice and Mary are made the "full executors" to his will. We thus see
that the youngest daughter has an undivided estate and a sum of money ; and the
crop was also bequeathed to her. The estate consisted of fifty-six acres of arable
and pasture, and a house. But she also possessed some property in Snitterfield,
which had probably been secured to her upon her father's second marriage. It was
in Snitterfield that Richard Shakspere occupied part of the Arden property.
Some twenty years after the death of Robert Ardeii, Harrison described the
growth of domestic luxury in England, saying, " There are old men yet dwelling in
the village where I remain, which have noted three things to be marvellously
altered in England within their sound remembrance." One of these enormities is
the multitude of chimneys lately erected, whereas formerly each one made his fire
against a reredosse in the hall, where he dined and dressed his meat : the second
thing is the great amendment of lodging the pillows, the beds, the sheets, instead
of the straw pallet, the rough mat, the good round log or the sack of chaff under
the head : the third thing is the exchange of vessels, as of treen platters into pewter,
and wooden spoons into silver or tin. He then describes the altered splendour
of the substantial farmer : " A fair garnish of pewter on his cupboard, with so much
more in odd vessels going about the house ; three or four feather-beds ; so many
coverlids and carpets of tapestry ; a silver salt, a bowl for wine, and a dozen of spoons
to furnish up the suit." Robert Arden had certainly not a mansion filled with many
needless articles for use or ornament. In the inventory of his goods taken after his
death we find table-boards, forms, cushions, benches, and one cupboard in his hall ;
there are painted cloths [pictures] in the hall and in the chamber ; seven pair of
sheets, five board-cloths, and three towels ; there is one feather-bed and two mat-
tresses, with sundry coverlets, and articles called canvasses, three bolsters, and one
pillow. The kitchen boasts four pans, four pots, four candlesticks, a basin, a
chafing-dish, two cauldrons, a frying-pan, and a gridiron. And yet this is the
grandson of a groom of a king's bedchamber, an office filled by the noble and the
rich, and who, in the somewhat elevated station of a gentleman of worship, would
probably possess as many conveniences and comforts as a rude state of society
could command. There was plenty outdoors oxen, bullocks, kine, weaning calves,
swine, bees, poultry, wheat in the barns, barley, oats, hay, peas, wood in the yard,
horses, colts, carts, ploughs. Robert Arden had lived through unquiet times, when
there was little accumulation, and men thought rather of safety than of indulgence :
the days of security were at hand. Then came the luxuries that Harrison looked
upon with much astonishment and some little heartburning.
WILLIAM SHAKSFERE t A BIOGRAPHY.
And so iu the winter of 1556 was Mary Ardcn left without the guidance of a
father. We learn from a proceeding in chancery some forty years later, that with
the land of Asbies there went a messuage. Mary Arden had therefore a roof-tree of
her own. Her sister Alice was to occupy another property in Wilmecote with
the widow. Mary Arden lived in a peaceful hamlet ; but there were some strange