I have previously argued that Shakespeare didn't write down the Shakespearean plays and sonnets. If I am right about that, then Shakespeare can't possibly have been the kind of "literary creator" that you can see in the picture on the left. That man is dirty and ragged, obsessed, totally locked inside his own world and completely concentrated on writing down his thoughts on his paper.
And he is totally alone.
If you ask me, Shakespeare was probably nothing like that.
This, if you ask me, was Shakespeare.
The ant furthest to the left is Shakespeare. He boldly went where no ant had gone before.
But he could go there thanks to the other ants, who helped him.
Who were the other ants, the people who helped Shakespeare?
Shakespeare started out as an actor. As a writer - or as a "literary creator" - he started out as a producer of working material for his theatrical company.
He wrote plays so that he and the people belonging to his theatrical company would have any plays to perform.
Isn't it likely that some of the other actors belonging to his theatrical company might have helped him creating these plays?
Isn't it possible that one of the other men belonging to the theatre company might have been Shakespeare's "secretary", taking down what Shakespeare dictated to him?
Shakespeare seems to have been "too knowledgeable" about things that a person from his social background and with his limited schooling shouldn't have known much about. But Shakespeare's best-known patron was Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. Isn't it likely that the Earl of Southampton might have provided Shakespeare with some important information about the aristocracy, information that Shakespeare could put to good use in his plays?
Shakespeare probably never left England, but a third of his plays are set in Italy. Isn't it possible that he might have known someone who knew a lot about Italy?
Shakespeare seemed to have a broad knowledge about a lot of things. Isn't it possible that he might have picked up much of it from the other men in his theatrical company, from his patron, and, not least, from the simmering, vital, growing, cosmopolitan London he lived in during his most creative years?
To the left you can see a woman selling "broadsheets", probably a sort of newspapers, at the swarming Royal Exchange of London. Here people from all walks of life and from countries all over Europe came to make business and just generally to meet and mingle. Can't Shakespeare have been able to pick up some of all the ideas and knowledge that London of his day must have been full of?
The Royal Exchange of London, 1644.
Shakespeare didn't come up with all his plots himself. In fact, he may have come up with few of his own plots, just possibly none of them. The tragedy of Hamlet is based on the legend of Amblett or Amleth
, told by the 12th century Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus
. Shakespeare might not have known the original legend of Hamlet himself, but a friend or acquaintance of his might have told him.
That's why Shakespeare was a team player, not a solo artist.