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"The Sonnets and Narrative Poems" collects together all the non-dramatic poetry of William Shakespeare. While Shakespeare is known best for his plays he also wrote numerous love sonnets and a handful of narrative poems which are excellent literary works in their own right. The narrative poems include two erotically themed works, "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece" as well as the romantic narratives of "A Lover's Complaint" and "The Phoenix and the Turtle". Shakespeare also wrote a collection of 154 love sonnets. Believed to be written throughout his lifetime there is some dispute as to the intended order of "The Sonnets". It is thought that he planned two contrasting series for the poems. The first is of the desire for a married woman of dark complexion, the so-called "dark lady", and the other about the conflicted love of a fair young man, the "fair youth". This classic collection of non-dramatic poetry shows Shakespeare in a different light than his dramatic works and helps to exemplify the full breadth of his immense literary talents.
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"Shakespeare has deliberately opened up the -two--character form he inherited and, as the dramatist he would become, populated the -love--sequence in new and drastically more interesting ways . . . In inventive metaphorical reach alone, Shakespeare excels his predecessors . . . [He] makes the -sonnet--voice ampler and more psychologically convincing than ever before." -from the Introduction by Helen Vendler
Shakespeare has deliberately opened up the two-character form he inherited and, as the dramatist he would become, populated the love-sequence in new and drastically more interesting ways . . . In inventive metaphorical reach alone, Shakespeare excels his predecessors . . . [He] makes the sonnet-voice ampler and more psychologically convincing than ever before. from the Introduction by Helen Vendler"
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23, 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.
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