William Shakespeare is an English poet and playwright, famous throughout the world even today. Read this biography to know about the childhood & profile of William Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare

Baptized on: April 26, 1564
William Shakespeare
Born in: Stratford-upon-Avon
Nationality: English
Career: Poet and Playwright
Died on: April 23, 1616
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, who is known for his plays even today. He is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language, often called ‘Bard of Avon’ (or simply ‘The Bard’). Amongst all his works, the ones that have survived till date include 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems and several other poems. Shakespeare’s plays have been translated to almost all the major languages in the world and have been performed on stage, more often than those of any other playwright. His plays and poems are also studied as a part of the literature curriculum, in many universities.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptized on 26th April 1564. He was the son of John Shakespeare, a successful Glover and alderman from Snitterfield and Mary Arden, the daughter of a rich landowning farmer. He was the third amongst his parents’ eight children, apart from being the eldest surviving son. Since his exact birth date is unknown, people usually celebrate 23rd April, St George's Day, as his birthday. It is believed that Shakespeare studied at the King's New School, in Stratford. It was a free school chartered in 1553, which was around a quarter of a mile from his home.
Early Life
Shakespeare got married to Anne Hathaway, a 26-year-old woman, when he was hardly 18 years old. The couple was issued a marriage license on 27th November 1582, by the consistory court of the Diocese of Worcester. Anne was pregnant before the marriage and gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, six months after the ceremony. Susanna was baptized on 26th May 1583. Around two years after the birth of Susanna, the couple had twins - son Hamnet and daughter Judith, who were baptized on 2nd February 1585. Hamnet died at the age of 11, of causes that are unknown, and was buried on 11th August 1596.
Shakespeare's Lost Years
From the birth of his twins, to the time when Shakespeare appeared on the London theatre circuit, in 1592, there are hardly any historical records on him. In fact, because of lack of information about these years of his life, the period is often referred to as ‘Shakespeare's Lost Years’. However, there are a number of apocryphal stories attributed to this period. While some believe that he fled to London, to escape prosecution for deer poaching, others are of the opinion that he used to look after the horses of theatre patrons in London. Yet another story is that he worked as a country schoolmaster.
London and Theatrical Career
Though there is no conclusive evidence on the time Shakespeare began writing, it is believed to be somewhere in the end 16th century. There are records of shows, based on his plays, performed at the London stage by 1592. In fact, he was so well known by that time that playwright Robert Greene even attacked him in print. From 1594, Shakespeare's plays were performed only by one company, named the Lord Chamberlain's Men. It was owned by a group of players, including Shakespeare. Within no time, ‘Lord Chamberlain's Men’ became the leading playing company in London.
The quarto editions published some of Shakespeare's plays, from 1594. In the next four years, he gained major recognition and his name became a selling point. He even started appearing on the title pages. However, along with working as a playwright, he continued to act in his own as well as other plays. In 1599, the members of the ‘Lord Chamberlain's Men’ entered into a partnership and built their own theatre ‘Globe’, which was situated on the south bank of the Thames. Shakespeare acted in ‘Every Man in His Humour’ in 1598 and was seen in Sejanus, His Fall, in 1603.
In 1603, following the death of Queen Elizabeth, ‘Lord Chamberlain's Men’ was awarded a royal patent by the new king, James I. Following the award of the patent, it had its name changed to the ‘King's Men’. Around five years later, in 1608, they took over the Blackfriars indoor theatre also. During the time the company was prospering, Shakespeare also became quite wealthy. He bought New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford (1597) and also invested in share of the parish tithes in Stratford (1605). 
London and Stratford
Throughout his career, Shakespeare divided his time between London and Stratford. In 1596, he was living in the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate. The next year, he bought New Place, his family home in Stratford. Two years later, in 1599, he moved to Southwark. During this year, his company was constructed the Globe Theatre in Southwark. By 1604, Shakespeare had moved to the north of the river again. He shifted to an area that was situated to the north of St Paul's Cathedral and boasted of many fine houses. Finally, he moved back to Stratford and lived his last days in New Place.
Later Years and Death
In the 17th century, Shakespeare wrote fewer plays. In fact, there has been no record of a play being written by him after 1613. Even his last three plays are believed to be collaborations, probably with John Fletcher. The latter succeeded Shakespeare as the house playwright for the ‘King’s Men’. Though he retired to Stratford some years before his death, he continued visiting London. Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616, survived by his wife and two daughters, both of whom were married. Susanna had married John Hall, a physician, in 1607, while Judith was married to Thomas Quiney, a vintner. He was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church, two days after his death.
Plays (Comedy)
  • All's Well That Ends Well
  • As You Like It
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Cymbeline
  • Love's Labours Lost
  • Measure for Measure
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Taming of the Shrew
  • The Tempest
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Twelfth Night
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Winter's Tale 
Plays (History)
  • Henry IV, part 1
  • Henry IV, part 2
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, part 1
  • Henry VI, part 2
  • Henry VI, part 3
  • Henry VIII
  • King John
  • Richard II
  • Richard III 
Plays (Tragedy)
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus
  • Hamlet
  • Julius Caesar
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Othello
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Timon of Athens
  • Titus Andronicus 
  • The Sonnets
  • A Lover's Complaint
  • The Rape of Lucrece
  • Venus and Adonis
  • Funeral Elegy

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