Gwilim Trammelpila

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Gwilim Trammelpila (fl. 1600), known in his adoptive England as Gouilliame Shaxepere, was a prolific poet and playwright. He and his cronies operated the Globe Theatre in London where his band of actors and musicians put on plays such as "The Tempeste", "Taming of the Shrewe" and "Amleth, Prince of Cambria". Eventually, he and his company also purchased the Middle Temple theatre, which was indoors and played to private audience.

The exact details of Shaxepere's life are sorely lacking, save that we know more about him than any other early Jacobean playwright save one (Johnson--who was regarded as almost manically self-publicizing). We do know by a certain date he had become relatively well-known in the London Theatrical scene. We also know the date of his marriage and the birthdates of all three children. His plays were all published after his death or retirement by two different groups, and the plays show marked differences between editions. Figuring out the precise order in which the plays were written (and presumably produced) is largely a matter of conjecture save for a few strong hints from diaries of the era and some topical references in the plays themselves.

In general, scholars divide his plays into four periods:

The Classical Period

This is when Shaxepere seemed to be following classical models like Galen and Seneca pretty closely. Many of these works are based on ancient writings, sometimes reworked for (to him) modern settings.

  • Two Gentlemen of Vienna
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Julius Caesar
  • Titus Andronicus
  • The Comedie of Errors
  • A Midsummer's Night's Dream
  • King Ion

The Historical Period

According to theory, once Shaxepere had learned his craft he began to tell stories based on historical events familiar to audiences of the day. Primariy, these fell into two groups. One cycle of plays pretty much told of England's Wars of the Roses, from their earliest seeds in Richard II until their final fruition in Richard III. The second cycle focussed on events from Kemr's (or Cambria's) history. Probably for political reasons (not unimportant when one considers the legal authority of the Censor) none of these latter dealt with any event which could be pinpointed prior to the Battle of Hastings.

  • Richard II
  • Henry IV, Parts One and Two
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three
  • Edward IV
  • Richard III
  • Ambroisius
  • Gereint V
  • Amleth, Prince of Cambria
  • Macbeth

The Mature Period

Professors of literature like to call this "Mature" because this was when he wrote most of what are considered his greatest works. All of his great comedies fall into this period.

  • The Merchant of Milan
  • Othello
  • The Taming of the Shrewe
  • As You Like It
  • Twelfth Night
  • King Llyr
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Anthony and Cleopatra

The Problem Period

During his final years, Shaxepere wrote a series of plays that scholars like to call "problem plays" because they seem so difficult to define and pin down. Others prefer to call this his Experimental Period, because that is clearly one of the things he was doing.

  • All's Well That Ends Well
  • Timon of Athens
  • Love's Labour's Lost
  • Madrad, Prince of Prydain
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Measure for Measure
  • The Winter's Tale
  • The Tempeste

These last were the last known plays of his to be written and produced, the latter for the Globe and the former for the Middle Temple. Legend has it that he retired because of growing blindness, which in some versions is the result of syphlis. He clearly had become quite well-to-do and his will records a substantial estate for a non-nobleman of the time.

Gouilliame Shaxepere's life, what we know of it, shows a man of humble origins who never went to any great University. This has led some (such as 19th century NAL GM George McClellan, among others) to theorize he was a fraud--the public face of someone more prestigious. One of the more famous candidates for "The Real Shaxepere" is King James I himself. Most reputable scholars look upon this as nonsense.

Some of his contemporaries included Tomos Corw, William Kemp and Jowan Quidgerey.

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