Share this page

The following is an imagined account from the life of John Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's father.


I was really pleased when William got us the coat of arms. Mind you we ought to have had it twenty years before, when we first tried. William had a bit of a struggle with the College of Heralds because of his being a player, as they call it. But he’s doing well. He has a good job with the Lord Chamberlain’s company of players, and works really hard, they tell me, acting and helping to run the company as well as writing plays for them – and he makes a decent amount of money out of it. ‘Not without right’ our motto says. Indeed not, after all I’ve done for this town since moving in from the country and setting up home here in Henley Street. It’s not everyone who rises from being apprenticed to a glover to becoming an alderman, and eventually the town’s bailiff, not to say representing its interests in London. And that without a grammar school education.

But I can read well enough, and sign my name with a mark at least. Well, I had enough of public service in the end and started concentrating on my wool business up and down the country. It’s had its ups and downs, but by and large I’ve made a success of it and been able to help William with his investments. He’s a good lad, the way he keeps up an interest in his home town. Now he’s been able to buy New Place, the grand house he used to pass on his way to school, bless him. Of course it would be good if we saw more of him, but he comes down whenever the playhouses are closed, regularly in Lent and of course in time of plague. And I’m glad to help with the grandchildren now that his wife is so busy running a fine house with servants and all.

Cast: Joe Moore, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Help keep Shakespeare's story alive

Donate Online

More like this

Shakespedia Index

Go behind the scenes

Read our blogs
Where Shakespeare's story started Relive Shakespeare's love story Walk in Shakespeare's footsteps