Othello and King Lear: A comparisonIf Shakespeare was alive today it is certain that there would be a lotwritten about him. We would read reviews of his new plays in newspapers,articles about his poetry in the literary papers, and gossip about his love lifeand his taste in clothes splashed across the glossy magazines. His views abouteverything under the sun, from the government to kitchen furniture, wouldprobably appear regularly in the colour supplements. His face would be familiaron television talk shows, his voice well-known from radio broadcasts.
Therewould be so much recorded evidence about his life and his opinions that it wouldnot be hard to write about him.Shakespeare, however, lived some four hundred years ago in the reign ofQueen Elizabeth I, when there was no tele-vision or radio, nor even anynewspapers as we know them today. Although he was respected as an importantperson in his own lifetime, nobody ever thought of writing about him until wellafter his death. And Shakespeare did apparently not believe in keeping a diaryeither. So it is largely by luck that the little evidence we have, such as theentry of his birth in the parish register, has survived at all.
And yet, by looking carefully at contemporary pictures, by readingcontemporary accounts, it is possible to get a good idea of how the boy whosebirth is recorded in the Stratford register of 1654 grew up into the man whowrote such famous plays still known all over the world, as we type.