And Sound Like?
information exists about Shakespeare’s physical
characteristics, such as his height and weight,
his gait, the
timbre of his voice, and the tone of his
complexion. However, portraits of him and
accounts of his activities allow for educated
conjecture about these characteristics. (Links to images of Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Face and Head
Portraits of Shakespeare depict him with dark brown, reddish, or black hair billowing down to the lobes of the ears or shoulders and with a carefully trimmed mustache and a receding hairline. Most of them present him with a closely cropped beard rising from the chin to the level of the lower lip or to ear level. However, the 1623 First Folio portrait depicts him without a beard. The facial features of that portrait differ markedly from those in the other portraits, such as the John Sanders Portrait and the John Soest Stratford Portrait. None of the portraits gives any indication that Shakespeare had deformities, scars, or other types of disfigurements.However, the memorial bust of him in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon indicates that he may have had a suntanned face.
Portraits of Shakespeare (head and shoulders) suggest that he was of average weight. There are no signs of a double chin or fleshy cheeks. However, a bust of him in Holy Trinity Church at Stratford-Upon-Avon depicts a stout Shakespeare. The padded jacket he is wearing could account for the portliness. It is also possible that he gained weight in his later years or that the artist failed to depict him as he was.
Because Shakespeare acted in his own plays and those of other prominent authors, such as Ben Jonson, he probably possessed a reasonably good voice. At the Globe Theatre, actors had to project their voices to two thousand to three thousand people, up to one thousand of whom stood in a yard in front of the stage talking when they became bored and booing or hissing when the performances displeased them.
Body Movement and Physical Condition
acting required Shakespeare to walk, gesture,
grimace, and use other body language, he
apparently had no serious handicaps that limited
his movement or detracted from his performance.
When traveling back and forth between Stratford
and London, he may have ridden a horse. His
plays indicate that he had a sportsman's
knowledge of the outdoors.
Hands and Arms
Shakespeare wrote his plays with a quill dipped in ink. Therefore, he probably had at least one good hand and arm–and considering what has been already said about his required movements as an actor–probably two good hands and arms. He had five digits on both hands, according to the sculpture in the church.
lamplight or the natural light of often-misty
London days, Shakespeare had to write, read, and
memorize to meet his responsibilities as a
writer, an actor, and a businessman. It is
likely, therefore, that his eyesight was good or
at least adequate into middle age.
Images of Shakespeare
Chandos Oil Painting: Oil , by John Taylor
John Sanders Portrait
John Goldar Line Engraving
John Soest Stratford Portrait
Memorial in Holy Trinity Church
Plaster Copy of Church Memorial
Shakespeare's Funeral Bust
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