First published in 1990, the aim of this book is to reveal the William Shakespeare whose life has been obscured by centuries of literary mythology. It unravels a series of strands in order to understand the man and the major influences which shaped his life and writing. The first part advances the thesis that his relationship with his father directly influenced the character of Falstaff — helping to not only explain key events in his father’s life but also critical events in his own biography. This thesis not only illuminates the Falstaff plays but also a number of other works such as Hamlet. The second part focuses on Shakespeare’s own life, and includes much original research particularly on the tradition that he was a poacher of deer, discussing the influence this incident had on his later life and writings. In addition, a sociological approach has been used which illuminates a number of key areas, including questioning the view his background was narrow and provincial — which has often been used to dispute his authorship of plays of such cosmopolitan appeal.
Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The Rose of John Shakespeare Chapter 3 John Shakespeare’s Cultural World Chapter 4: The Shakespeare/Lambert Dispute Chapter 5: John Shakespeare As Falstaff Chapter 6: The Fall of John Shakespeare Chapter 7: The Death of john Shakespeare and the Writing of Hamlet; Section II; Chapter 8: The Deer Poaching Tradition Chapter 9: Sir Thomas Lucy’s Deer Parks Chapter 10: The Deer Park and Cony Warren at Charlecote Chapter 11: The Wild Youth Chapter 12: Banishment and Exile Chapter 13: The Rise of William Shakespeare Chapter 14: The End of Exile; Footnotes