Why/when/how did William Shakespeare become well known during the Renaissance?

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Did he ever perform in church plays? I read somewhere that he became popular as the result of those plays, but I haven't seen anything else mentioning that. It sort of has me confused. ;__;




  1. England was Protestant Anglican during Shakespeare's life and was becoming more puritanical by the time of his death in 1616.  I doubt Shakespeare would have been involved in many church plays.  The theater crowd was not considered a very righteous or morally upright group of people in those days.

    Shakespeare was a commercial playwright.  His plays were popular during his career and performances continued after his death all the way to the present day.  He didn't have to wait until years after death for his work to be recognized.

    The "Renaissance" was giving way to the modern world by the time of Shakespeare's popularity though exact dates for the renaissance period are ever open to debate and varied opinions.  I would call Shakespeare 'early modern' though others may well disagree.

  2. I would agree with Spreedog on this...Shakespeare, 1564-1616, really lived in the Early Modern period, after the period we consider the Renaissance (which conjures up imagery of the Italian and continental Renaissance with all of its art).

    The Renaissance in England happened a little after the peak of expression in Italy and Shakespeare certainly benefited from this seeing as he studied the Greeks and Romans in grammar school and would have had access to a variety of source materials - by the time he was born, England was already enjoying its own 're-birth.'

    As for morality or miracle plays (the sort of religious indoctrination plays that churches across Europe sponsored) - they were waning in popularity and had been for some time. As Puritanism and the Reformation gained in popularity, The Church (RC and Protestant) started to see theatre in a negative light.

    Shakespeare may well have witnessed a morality play or two when he was younger, he may have heard of them, there may have been remnants performed at holidays...but he didn't write for an art-form that no longer existed (even though there is certainly a hint of influence in his own work).

    Shakespeare wrote for the secular stage and it was both his poetry (epic poems like "Venus and Adonis") and his drama that made him famous and wealthy in his own lifetime.

    Sorry this is so long - I just really enjoy this stuff :)

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