Shakespeare ‘may have been a humble schoolmaster’

William Shakespeare may have spent some of his “lost” early years working as a schoolmaster in a Hampshire village. Local historians in Titchfield near Southampton believe the Bard worked as a schoolmaster at a school there for three years between 1589 and 1592. The theory has its roots in his relationship with the third Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley, who sponsored Shakespeare for a time. It may answer the mystery of where the author was between 1589 and 1592. Academics have long tried to fill in the details of Shakespeare’s lost years between the birth of his twins in 1589, and 1592 when he was recorded as being in London.

Local historian Ken Groves says he has established beyond reasonable doubt that a house near the historic Titchfield Abbey, known as Place House Cottage, was a schoolhouse at the time. And he also believes the buildings were owned by Henry Wriothesley’s family. He places this evidence alongside a claim from the 17th Century writer John Aubrey that Shakespeare worked as a schoolmaster. Aubrey wrote about England’s most famous dramatist in his book Brief Lives, basing his claim on verbal evidence from the son of a contemporary writer of Shakespeare who told him the Bard had been a teacher in rural England.

Henry Wriothesley is known to have sponsored Shakespeare for a time and Imperial College Professor John Dover Wilson wrote in 1933 that Shakespeare had worked as a tutor for the third Earl of Southampton. The old grammar school in Titchfield is now known as Place House Cottage

Mr Groves, a retired physicist, said: “All we are doing is putting the pieces of a the jigsaw together. “If he was a schoolmaster he probably would have had to have had a close connection with a noble family. “We have a school that was there at the right time, which had a connection with one of the earls who we know Shakespeare had a connection with. “And we have the written evidence in Brief Lives that Shakespeare was a teacher.”

He added: “The school itself was run as a monastic school and quite a small one with a maximum of about 12 pupils. “They would have taught Latin, religious studies, grammar and a bit of maths.” Edited from Shakespeare ‘may have been a humble schoolmaster’.

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