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By Graham Holderness

Who was once Shakespeare and the way did he reside? Combining truth, culture and mind's eye, Shakespeare's many lives are instructed in nine attainable methods

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All these experiences he cast into the forge of his dramatic and poetic creativity, where they assumed moving and compelling forms. In his plays he provided solutions to the problems he found intractable in real life. But eventually this tension between life and art became stretched to the point of painful rupture, and his poetry burst into the beauty and violence of a tragic flowering. He himself was spent, exhausted, finished, a burnt-out case. He looked inside himself, and found an emptiness; he attained self-knowledge, only to learn that he had no self at all to speak of.

Scholars spend their lives trying to work out, from this evidence, what the manuscript contained. But it’s all guesswork. They manage to conceal this from the general public, who buy their Penguin Shakespeare plays, thinking this is just what the Bard himself wrote with that famous quill pen. But it’s not – or rather we don’t know whether it is or not. Imagine you’re a student of painting, and you’re working on the Mona Lisa. But you have nothing in front of you except copies: derivative paintings by others, photographs, descriptions in words.

Some Shakespeare the Writer 27 time after this seventeenth century installation, the figure was altered to that of Shakespeare the writer with paper and pen. Those who seek to prove that Shakespeare of Stratford was not a writer at all, but a landlord and merchant, and that someone else wrote the works, naturally find great significance in this transmutation. Annually on Shakespeare’s birthday, a new quill pen is placed in the hand of the figure on the Stratford monument, as if to reiterate that this antique tool is also a modern interpolation, and has always been retrospectively placed in the writer’s hand by others.

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