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Biography of William Shakespeare

A painting of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England on May 3, 1564. His father, John Shakespeare, was a glove-maker and his mother, Mary Arden, was a gentry daughter.

Shakespeare's father was quite prosperous at the time of the birth of his son, but was later prosecuted for participating in the black market of wool and lost his position as an alderman.

As the son of a prominent town official, Shakespeare probably attended the grammar school in Stratford which may have provided him with extensive education in Latin grammar and literature. Although he may have attended Stratford, there is no evidence showing that his education ever extended past grammar school.

On November 28, 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at Temple Grafton, near Stratford. There were some troubles with the marriage however, as Hathaway was already three months pregnant. After, William Shakespeare left no trace until he appeared on the London literary scene.

On May 26, 1583, Shakespeare's first child, Susanna, was baptized at Stratford. Shakespeare also had another son, Hamnet, and a daughter, Judith, whom were baptized later on February 2, 1585.

In 1596, Hamnet died and was buried on August 11, 1596. It is believed that his death led Shakespeare to write The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, the reworking of an older lost play.

By 1598, Shakespeare moved to Bishopgate and appeared as an actor in Every man in his Humour by Ben Jonson.

Shakespeare later became an actor, writer and part-owner of the playing company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, which took its name from its aristocratic sponsor, Lord Chamberlain. After the death of Elizabeth I, the company was liked by James I so much that it adopted the name as the King's Men.

Legal documents over the next several years show that Shakespeare acted as a matchmaker for his landlord's daughter and also became rich enough to own the second-largest house in Stratford, New Place and buy property in Blackfriars, London.

In 1609, Shakespeare's sonnets were published. While most were dedicated to a 'fair lord' the rest were dedicated to a 'dark lady'. Some say the poems were homoerotic but it remains much in debate.

After Shakespeare retired in 1611, he was drawn into a legal quarrel regarding common land. However Shakespeare remained neutral and made sure his income was protected.

Shakespeare died on the same day as his birth, May 3, 1617. He was married to Anne until his death and was survived by his two daughters, Susannah and Judith. William Shakespeare is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, not because of his fame, but because he purchased the land before his death.

Much of Shakespeare's works have been of debate about whether or not he wrote all that is attributed to him. Many believed he was not capable of writing any, while others believed he only helped write them. It is also believed that Shakespeare's last plays were buried with him, but no one has looked inside his tomb due to his epitaph "Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blest be the man that spares these stones, But cursed be he that moves my bones."

Poems by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Plays

Famous Quotes