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* All that is known with any degree of certainty concerning Shakspere is—that he was born at Stratford
* Along with that tomb-stone information, perhaps even without much of it, we could have liked to gain
NEW YORK :
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
416, BROOME STREET.
This is a new edition, with large alterations and additional matter, grounded upon more recent information, of a volume published in 1843. That book has been long out of print and it is a gratification to me to reproduce it thoroughly revised.
The two mottoes in the title-page express the principle upon which this Biography' has been written. That from Steevens shows, with a self-evident exaggeration of its author, how scanty are the materials for a Life of Shakspere properly so called. Indeed, every Life of him must, to a certain extent, be conjectural; and all the Lives that have been written are in great part conjectural. My 'Biography' is only so far more conjectural than any other, as regards the form which it assumes ; by which it has been endeavoured to associate Shakspere with the circumstances around him, in a manner which may fix them in the mind of the reader by exciting his interest.
I fully agree with Mr. Hunter, with regard to the want of information on the life of Shakspere, that he is, in this respect, in the state in which most of his contemporary poets are—Spenser for instance—but with this difference, that we do know more concerning Shakspere than we know of most of his contemporaries of the same class. Admitting this sound reasoning, I still believe that the attempt which I ventured to make, for the first time in English Literature, to write a Biography which, in the absence of Diaries and Letters, should surround the known facts with the local and temporary circumstances, and with the social relations amidst which one of so defined a position must have moved, was not a freak of fancy, but an approximation to the truth, which could not have been reached by a mere documentary narrative.