William Shakespeare's Collection
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) needs little introduction as England’s greatest poet and playwright, author of 38 immortal plays and 154 sonnets, and myriad other works of poetry. During his lifetime Shakespeare was a successful and well-respected artist, but only later during the Romantic period was he truly deified. Even later, during the 20th Century, Shakespeare would be subjected to every conceivable form of literary criticism. What has remained true is the beauty and immortality of his work, which is most evident in the deep psychological complexities of his characters, who are not simply good or evil, but are generally rendered as flawed humans plagued by their conscious and led to action by their emotions.
Since Shakespeare was above all a creator of popular plays, his efforts weren’t considered “art” per se on the page, as his work was meant to be performed. None of his plays had been published in his lifetime, and existed only as theatre scripts that were kept at the Globe. Fortunately two of Shakespeare’s friends published 36 of his plays, “only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare.” Thus the plays we enjoy today are really reconstructions of those scripts. Oh how the world of literature would have suffered if they hadn’t preserved the work of the Immortal Bard!