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Andrew BalamounDr. William ShawEnglish 2093 December 20151599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare1599 was a remarkable year for England and William Shakespeare. Penned in2005 by author James Shapiro,1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespearecritiquesand evaluates four of Shakespeare’s plays (Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It,andHamlet)written in the pivotal year of 1599. Shapiro also provides readers with aninformative background into the events that influenced the development of Shakespeareas a writer and how he used the events of that year to shape his plays. These eventsinclude the English invasion of Ireland and its impact on the great poet Edmund Spenser,the collusions of Queen Elizabeth’s court and the downfall of the Earl of Essex, increasedgovernment censorship, the construction of the Globe Theater, and the departure of actorWill Kemp from the stage.A Battle of WillsBy late autumn and winter of 1598, the relationship between playwright WilliamShakespeare and his company’s popular comic actor, Will Kemp, had taken an interestingturn. A decision was made to force the focus of theater in the direction of the writer ratherthan the actor, ultimately ending Shakespeare and Kemp’s stage partnership with theabandonment of theater’s convention known as the jig—a separate form of entertainment,involving dancing, singing, and bawdy at the end of each play. Kemp was well knownand highly praised for his favorite role of Falstaff; however, Shakespeare found himself
moving toward a more naturalistic drama in which the traditional clown character hadbecome an obstacle. In the end, this victory in the ‘battle of Wills’ had been won byShakespeare, signaling a triumph in the creation of a playwright’s theater and foreverchanging the course of English drama.A Great Blow in IrelandThe death of the most powerful man in England, Lord Treasurer Burghley, was ahuge blow to England at a time where the failing military was also taking a toll onEnglish pride and on their finances. Queen Elizabeth especially took to the news ofBurghley’s death in a difficult manner, as Burghley had served her faithfully for fortyyears. The aftermath of Burghley’s death dashed the hopes of those seeking to reorientEnglish foreign policy as policy makers heatedly debated whether to make peace withSpain due to the fact that Burghley was the chief advocate of peace. A lasting accord withSpain would mean a hopeful end of Spanish support for Irish rebels and enhance thenation by providing English merchants with access to ports that were closed to them atthe time.Burial at WestminsterTraveling from Ireland in the winter of 1598, Edmund Spenser, the author of thegreat national epicThe Faerie Queene, arrived in London. He was widely acknowledgedas the greatest living English poet. Spenser and his wife were among a group of Englishsettlers that abandoned their estates in the face of an onslaught at the Munster Plantation,

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