the illustrated shakespeare
|In spite of the long hours he spent in school, Shakespeare's
boyhood was probably not all study. As a market centre, Stratford would
have been a bustling town. Stratford also offered Shakespeare other
pleasures. The fields and woods surrounding the town provided opportunities
to hunt and trap small game. The River Avon, which ran through the town,
had fish to catch. Shakespeare's poems and plays show a love of nature and
rural life. This display undoubtedly reflects his childhood experiences
and his love of the Stratford countryside.
There are other fragmented, though dubious, details about Shakespeare's life growing up in Stratford. He is supposed to have worked for a butcher, in addition to helping run his father's business. There is also a fable that Shakespeare stole a deer from Sir Thomas Lucy at Charlecote, and to escape the potential prison sentence, he fled from Stratford. Although this is surely a fictitious incident, there exist a few verses of a humorous ballad mocking Lucy that has been connected to Shakespeare. "Edmond Malone records a version of two verses of the Lucy Ballad collected by one of the few great English classical scholars, Joshua Barnes, at Stratford between 1687 and 1690. Barnes stopped overnight at an inn and heard an old woman singing it. He gave her a new gown for the two stanzas which were all she remembered":
Drama would have been a significant part of Stratford's social life. Indeed by 1569, Not only did local people put on amateur shows, traveling companies of professional actors were regularly performing in Stratford. Especially, it is considered during the two large annual fairs, which were popular enough to attract visitors from neighbouring counties. It has, by some, been considered that Shakespeare may have joined one of them, possibly arriving in London around 1586/7.