William Shakespeare Biography
William Shakespeare is widely considered the greatest playwright who ever lived. Learn more about him!
William Shakespeare is considered the greatest playwright who ever lived. He was born in the small English town of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. During his lifetime, he composed at least 37 plays, which are still being performed on stages all over the world.
William Shakespeare attended grammar school as a young boy. At the age of 18, he married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway. Anne delivered their first child, Susanna, a few short months later. In early 1585, Anne gave birth to twins, a girl Judith and a boy Hamnet. Tragically, Hamnet died at the age of 11 in 1596.
Little is known about Shakespeare’s life in the late 1580s. By the 1590s, he had begun writing plays in London. A 1592 pamphlet referred to Shakespeare as both a playwright and an actor. This pamphlet also suggested that he was well known for his works in London by this time. Shakespeare became a member of a theater troupe called Lord Chamberlain's Men, and they performed together in front of many nobles and royalty. He remained a stockholder and actor, and wrote more than two plays a year for his company. His early plays include: Henry VI, Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labor's Lost, and Romeo and Juliet. His later plays include: Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream, King John, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra.
During the 1590s, Shakespeare became famous and gained a great deal of wealth. He bought two very expensive houses in Stratford. From 1592 to 1594, Shakespeare wrote many poems, as the theaters were shut down to stop the spread of the “plague” that killed thousands of people at the time.
It was in 1599 that “The Globe” theater was built. One half of the interest in this famous public playhouse went to the theater patron family, the Burbages. But the other half was divided among five actor-sharers, and Shakespeare was one of them. The Globe was rebuilt in 1614 after a disastrous fire and the theater was used through 1644. For years now, historians have gathered enough evidence for an authentic re-creation of Shakespeare’s theatre. The rebuilt Globe Theater of the late 1990s is only yards away from where the original Globe stood.
In 1603, King James VI came to England’s throne. He loved the theater and issued a license to the Chamberlain’s Men, giving them the title “The Kings Men.” It was a great honor. In 1608, Shakespeare’s acting company signed a 2-year lease to use the Blackfriars Playhouse. It was indoors and artificially lighted and located in the heart of the city of London.
On Feb 10, 1616, William’s daughter Judith Shakespeare married in Stratford. Shakespeare’s will was revised to include his new son-in-law. About a month later, on April 23, Shakespeare died and was buried in Stratford.