There is a period in
Shakespeare's life of some seven years (1585 to 1592), covering Shakespeare's
daily activities after he left school and before he re-emerged as a professional
actor from which we have absolutely no primary source materials about
For seven years, William Shakespeare effectively
disappears from all records, turning up in London circa 1592 This has
sparked as much controversy about Shakespeare's life as any period. There
are various traditions and stories about the so-called 'lost years'.
Suggestions that Rowe notes that young Shakespeare
was quite fond of poaching, and may have had to flee Stratford after an
incident with Sir Thomas Lucy, whose lands he allegedly hunted. Tough
considered highly unlikely, alternative suggestions include that he may
have worked as an assistant schoolmaster in Lancashire for a time, as
a lawyer or glover with his father and brother, Gilbert, are all plausible.
So too is the argument that Shakespeare studied intensely to become a
master at his literary craft, and honed his acting skills while travelling
and visiting playhouses outside of Stratford.
Shakespeare's name appears with his parents'
names in a Stratford lawsuit in 1588. But he may not have been living
in Stratford at that time. Scholars believe that sometime during the lost
years Shakespeare moved to London and served a period of apprenticeship
in the city's busy theatrical life
It is estimated that Shakespeare arrived
in London around 1588 and began to establish himself as an actor and playwright
But, it is from this period known as the
"lost years" that we obtain a vital piece of information about Shakespeare:
he married a pregnant orphan named Anne Hathaway.