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Jonathan Bate

Ben Jonson famously derided Shakespeare’s grasp of ‘small Latin and less Greek’, and vocal sceptics in our own time refuse to believe that a grammar-school education was sufficient to enable the man from Stratford to write the plays attributed to ‘Shakespeare’ ...

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Shakespeare was commonly regarded by his Romantic admirers as a solitary figure, whose prodigious talents were linked in some mysterious fashion to his isolation from society and from his fellow writers. ‘Shakespeare,’ wrote Coleridge in 1834, ‘is of no age – nor, I might add, of any religion, or party, or profession. The body and substance of his works came out of the unfathomable substance of his own oceanic mind.’ Carlyle thought likewise; Shakespeare, he believed, dwelt ‘apart, in a kind of royal solitude; none equal, none second’ to his creative powers.

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