Social Philosophy

The Beginnings of Shakespeare - New Finds and Fresh Thoughts

Professor Michael Wood
Wednesday, 17 November 2021 - 7:00pm


What were the social, political and artistic influences that shaped the young William Shakespeare before he moved to London to find fame and fortune in the theatre?

Until recently, studies have tended to focus on the poet’s family background; his schooling and education; and his first encounters with drama.  But increasingly, historians are understanding him as part of the generation which grew up during a huge shift between the traditional thought-world of late Medieval England and the new Protestant order, imposed during the reign of Elizabeth 1st.

Fascinating recent finds - including some twenty new documents on his father - are transforming our view of the poet’s background.   In particular, the bitter politics of Reformation Warwickshire, which it is now clear touched his own family.

In this illustrated talk the historian Professor Michael Wood - author of the highly-praised biography In Search of Shakespeare (2003) - looks at what we can learn from the recent discoveries.


About the speaker

Born in Manchester and educated at the Manchester Grammar School, Michael Wood is Professor of Public History at Manchester University.  He is the author of many books  and 120 documentary films including a four part film biography of Shakespeare for BBC2 and Shakespeare’s Mother for BBC4. 

Of his recent six part BBC 2 series, The Story of China, China’s Xinhua news agency said it had "....transcended the barriers of ethnicity and belief and brought something inexplicably powerful and moving to the television audience.”.  Mr Wood's book of the same name was published in the autumn of 2020 and is now available in an updated paperback.

Recipient of the British Academy’s President's Medal for services to history and outreach, Michael was awarded an OBE in 2021.

Event image: Photo of Michael Wood researching in Stratford – courtesy of Michael Wood



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