Shakespeare’s Schooldays

Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall is where it all began for William Shakespeare.

It's where a bright Midlands schoolboy was educated and inspired to become the world's greatest playwright.

Your visit to Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall will bring to life William's time as a schoolboy, from about 1571 to 1578. You'll find out how his outlook and ambitions were formed by the lessons he attended at the Guildhall and the plays he saw there.

Shakespeare’s Schooldays

William first entered the classroom in the Upper Guildhall at the age of 7 and continued his education until he was 14. He received a deep grounding in Latin language and literature and would have analysed the mechanics of poetry and prose in detail. Young William would have memorised long set pieces of Latin literature by authors including Cicero, Ovid, Terence, Virgil, and Horace and later drew on these classics extensively in his work.

We now believe that Shakespeare penned his first works while he was a schoolboy. Professor Sir Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson explain, in their recently published book, All the Sonnets of Shakespeare that sonnet 154 is based on a Greek text, perhaps set as a translation exercise, and sonnet 153 is an improved version of the same sonnet perhaps prompted by his teacher’s criticism.

While he toiled at his Latin and Greek, Shakespeare would have seen and heard the licensing performances of the travelling players, looking for recognition from the Bailiff and Aldermen that their plays were acceptable to be seen by the townsfolk. What a thrill for young William to have experienced theatre and perhaps even taken part.

A visit to Shakespeare's Schoolroom & Guildhall will bring you a lot closer to knowing the real Shakespeare and understanding his formative childhood years.