William Shakespeare (23 April 1564 - 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
He married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18 in 1582 and had three children with her: Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford-Upon-Avon around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.
Dozens if not hundreds of characters in Harry Turtledove stories with a post-1616 POD make passing references to Shakespeare or his writings - see Shakespearean References in Turtledove's Work. This article only discusses stories where Shakespeare appears as a character or is otherwise a driving force of the plot.
William Shakespeare in "We Haven't Got There Yet"
In 1606, William Shakespeare was appalled to learn that a group of actors were performing a play entitled Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Rose. The two characters mentioned in the title were characters in Shakespeare's own Hamlet. Shakespeare attended the first performance, and, while very puzzled by the style of the play, he nonetheless warmed to it. Afterwards, he went before the company, who informed him, in a round-about manner, that they were in fact from several centuries in the future, and had been transported back to 1606 by unknown means. Overwhelmed by this knowledge, Shakespeare fled from their presence, but came back two weeks later to take in another production.
William Shakespeare in Ruled Britannia
William Shakespeare was a great playwright who burst upon the London theater scene several months before the Spanish Armada defeated Queen Elizabeth's forces in 1588. He soon rivaled even Christopher Marlowe who had, until then, been considered the greatest of the day. Shakespeare's most popular play was Prince of Denmark, where he played The Ghost.
He had cared little for politics and actually had a religious preference for Catholicism, which was the faith of his father, John Shakespeare. He recognised that neither Queen Isabella nor Queen Elizabeth was an entirely benevolent ruler, that both suppressed political and especially religious dissent. However, he became distrustful of the draconian rule of the Spanish occupiers and the heavy handed tactics of the English Inquisition after witnessing an auto da fe. One of the condemned, alchemist Edward Kelley, who knew Shakespeare through their mutual acquaintance Marlowe, called out to Shakespeare, thus drawing the Inquisition's suspicions in Shakespeare's direction. He would later be investigated by Robert Cardinal Parsons, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 1597, Shakespeare's fame was such that Don Diego Flores de Valdes, the commander of the Spanish occupation, invited him to compose an English-language play celebrating the life of the dying King Philip II. At the same time, he was invited by Sir William Cecil to write a play celebrating the ancient Iceni queen Boudicca, who had led a revolt against Roman rule in ancient times.
Over the next year, Shakespeare became swept up in ever-deepening plots of intrigue, during which he indirectly caused the murders of Matthew Quinn and Geoffrey Martin by naming them as possible betrayers of the Boudicca Plot to Cecil's unsavory associates, Nick Skeres and Ingram Frizer. Shakespeare befriended Spanish soldier and fellow playwright Lope de Vega, to whom he promised a role in King Philip--which meant the Spaniard was often near the theater, making it extremely difficult to keep the existence of Boudicca secret. He did not have time to write Love's Labours Won, a play he had recently begun when he became swept up in all this intrigue.
When King Philip died, the Spaniards ordered Shakespeare to perform King Philip on 13 October 1598, a month to the day after Philip's death. Cecil's men (now answering to the late Sir William's son, Robert Cecil) ordered him to perform Boudicca instead. He could not decide which order to obey until almost immediately before the designated time to give the performance. He finally chose Boudicca.
Boudicca was a powerful, moving play that evoked love of Elizabeth in the hearts of his English audience. They were inspired to join a much larger uprising engineered by Cecil; even Shakespeare himself joined this revolt. By the next night the Spaniards had been expelled from London, and Elizabeth restored to the throne. Shakespeare also saw two Catholic priests hanged and mutilated in front of their church, and he knew that this he had not been faced with morally easy choice.
The legend of Shakespeare's role in this plot grew, and Elizabeth herself became grateful to him. She knighted him, she allowed his company of actors to refer to themselves as "The Queen's Men," and she offered Shakespeare other favors--one of which he used to obtain the release of de Vega, who had been captured during the revolt. He used another to divorce Anne Hathaway so he could marry Kate. Shakespeare also requested permission to let his play on King Philip be performed, as he felt it contained some of his best work. After consulting with Robert Cecil, who also had a high regard for the play, Elizabeth granted this request.
For all the benefits which came of his year-long intrigue in the end, throughout the ordeal all Shakespeare wanted was to be left alone to write his plays in Jane Kendall's boardinghouse and Kate's eatery.
- William Shakespeare at the Eric Flint Wiki
- Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount Saint Alban, who is named by a popular (but wholly unsubstantiated) conspiracy theory as the "true" author of some or all of Shakespeare's works. In The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, it is implied that Bacon really wrote Hamlet in that timeline.