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Shakespeare's 'Lost Years'

What was Shakespeare doing between 1585 and 1592?

We do not when or why William Shakespeare left Stratford-upon-Avon for London, or what he was doing before becoming a professional actor and dramatist in the capital. The years between him leaving Stratford and arriving in London are now commonly referred to as ‘The Lost Years.’ There are various traditions and stories about the so-called ‘lost years’ between 1585 and 1592. There is no documentary evidence of his life during this period of time. 

A type of mythology has developed around these mysterious years, and many people have their favourite version of the story.

A popular story revolves around Shakespeare’s relationship with Sir Thomas Lucy, a local Stratford-upon-Avon landowner. By oral tradition, it was reported that Shakespeare poached deer from Sir Thomas Lucy’s estate, the nearby Charlecote Park. It was said that he fled to London in order to escape punishment.

One early theory claims Shakespeare was for some years a schoolmaster in the country. Another prominent theory posits that Shakespeare may have joined a visiting acting troupe and made his way to London with them. Regardless of what happened during these years, we do know that he found himself an established playwright in London by 1592, as his plays began to be produced. 

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