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Episode Two

Premiering Wednesday, February 11, 2004 (Check local listings)

"The Lost Years"

Episode 2, The Lost Years
Episode 2, The Lost Years
Shakespeare's "missing years" have mystified scholars for centuries. In Episode Two - The Lost Years - Michael Wood explores conflicting theories of how Shakespeare spent the ten years between his marriage to Anne Hathaway and his emergence as a star writer in London.

Apart from the birth of his three children, absolutely nothing is known about Shakespeare's life between the ages of 18 and 28, but there are some intriguing clues. Wood first checks out a fascinating theory which takes young William up to serve in an old Catholic house near Preston in Lancashire. There Michael meets the Hoghton family, who believe a family will proves Shakespeare lived with them. Wood also investigates the possibility that Shakespeare first trod the boards in an ancient hall at Rufford near Liverpool.

From such humble beginnings, how then did William learn his craft as an actor and playwright? Wood examines the theory that Shakespeare joined Elizabeth's government propaganda company, the Queen's Men, in the year before the Spanish Armada. Greg Doran and a company of actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company bring their long-forgotten scripts back to life, offering a unique insight into the humour of the times.

Back in London, Wood uses Tudor maps, guidebooks, parish records and recently rediscovered Victorian photos of the only City neighborhood to escape the Great Fire, to pinpoint the street where Shakespeare first lived, the inns where he first drank, and the "winding lane" he walked down each day.

Shakespeare's world was one of surveillance and militarism. Using original documentation, Wood traces the downfall of Shakespeare's great rival Christopher Marlowe, recreating his fateful last journey; and, again aided by the RSC company, unveils some of Shakespeare's earliest works.

With the death of Marlowe, fame and fortune beckon for the young bard, but ahead too lie trauma and loss, both in life and in love.

Available on ShopPBS:


Episode 1 - A Time Of RevolutionEpisode 1

Episode 2 - The Lost YearsEpisode 2

Episode 3 - The Duty Of PoetsEpisode 3

Episode 4 - For All TimeEpisode 4

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