5" Brown Shakespeare Crushed Stone Chess Pieces
William Shakespeare, also known as the “Bard of Avon,” is often called England’s national poet and considered the greatest dramatist of all time. He wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23rd April 1564. His father William was a successful local businessman, and his mother Mary was the daughter of a landowner. Relatively prosperous, it is likely the family paid for Williams education, although there is no evidence he attended university. In 1582 William, aged only 18, married an older woman named Anne Hathaway. They had three children, Susanna, Hamnet and Juliet. Their only son Hamnet died aged just 11. After his marriage, information about the life of Shakespeare is sketchy, but it seems he spent most of his time in London – writing and acting in his plays. Due to some well-timed investments, Shakespeare was able to secure a firm financial background, leaving time for writing and acting. The best of these investments was buying some real estate near Stratford in 1605, which soon doubled in value.
It seemed Shakespeare didn’t mind being absent from his family – he only returned home during Lent when all the theatres were closed. It is thought that during the 1590s he wrote the majority of his sonnets. This was a time of prolific writing and his plays developed a good deal of interest and controversy. His early plays were mainly comedies (e.g. Much Ado about Nothing, A Midsummer’s Night Dream) and histories (e.g. Henry V) By the early Seventeenth Century, Shakespeare had begun to write plays in the genre of tragedy. These plays, such as Hamlet, Othello and King Lear, often hinge on some fatal error or flaw in the lead character and provide fascinating insights into the darker aspects of human nature. These later plays are considered Shakespeare’s finest achievements.
Shakespeare invented his share of stock characters, but his truly great characters – particularly his tragic heroes – are unequalled in literature, dwarfing even the sublime creations of the Greek tragedians. Shakespeare’s great characters have remained popular because of their complexity; for example, we can see ourselves as gentle Hamlet, forced against his better nature to seek murderous revenge. For this reason Shakespeare is deeply admired by actors, and many consider playing a Shakespearean character to be the most difficult and most rewarding role possible.
To illustrate the genius of Shakespeare’s characterisation Berkeley Chess have created this superbly crafted chess set illustrating many of the most important characters from Shakespeare’s 38 plays.
King: Richard III - Henry VIII
Queen: Cleopatra - Lady Macbeth
Bishop: Shylock - Cardinal Wolsey
Knight: Hamlet - Bottom
Rook: Globe Theatre - Elsinore
Pawn: Soldiers - Soldiers