Internet Shakespeare Editions


The schoolroom

The Schoolmaster. Ostade. By permission of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

There are no records of Shakespeare's activities during his boyhood, although his father's business and legal dealings indicate that the family continued to live in Stratford.

However, a conjectural account of Shakespeare's schooling can be reconstructed through our knowledge of his family and of the period.

The illustration includes a "birch" -- a cane to instill discipline in the students:

Duke Vincentio: Now, as fond fathers.
Having bound up the threat'ning twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
for terror, not to use; in time the rod
Becomes more mocked than feared; so our decrees.
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,
And Liberty plucks Justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.*
(Measure for Measure, 1. 3. 23-31)


  1. Decorum?

    Decorum, the principle of right behavior, is discussed further in the section on cosmic order.