Details about William Shakespeare's life are sketchy, mostly mere surmise based upon court or other clerical records

I'm confused as to whether the intended meaning is a court of law, or the people surrounding Shakespeare, but then again why would a court of law be related to someone's life?

  • Basic definition questions are not accepted here. You should use a dictionary to define words. If you have used a dictionary and are unsure which version of the meaning is intended, please include which definitions you think fit and explain your confusion.
    – Catija
    Mar 29, 2017 at 20:42
  • Back in the way back, there weren't many records... when people are trying to figure out whether a person actually existed, any records that can be found that are "official" (such as court of law records) are more trustworthy than personal accounts.
    – Catija
    Mar 29, 2017 at 20:49
  • court records means from a court of law. He testified in court and there was a will. Wills are filed in courts.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare's_will#External_links
    – Lambie
    Mar 29, 2017 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


They likely mean official governmental court (of law) records in this case.

There's always been an air of mystery around the person referred to as "Shakespeare" - some people think that he wasn't a single person at all, or that the person who bore his name didn't actually write the works attributed to it.

When trying to prove that such a person existed, these official records are more trustworthy than personal accounts of friends or acquaintances, which could easily have been false accounts to add to the mythos of this entity.

  • There are also records of the royal courts of Elizabeth and James which mention Shakespeare and his company. -- "Some people", by the way, should be "some cranks": no knowledgeable historian of English literature or drama has anything but scorn for the unscholarly anti-Stratfordians. Mar 29, 2017 at 23:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .