parish records reveal that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26,
1564, in the town of Stratford, in the English midlands. He was probably
born just a few days earlier, but the exact date is not known. His
father was John Shakespeare, a glove-maker and trader in farm
commodities; his mother was Mary Arden, the daughter of a wealthy
no records exist to prove it, as a boy Shakespeare probably attended
Stratford grammar school, where he would have received a sound education
in the classics. In November 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway,
who was eight years his senior. The couple had three children: Susanna,
born May 26, 1583, and the twins, Judith and Hamnet, who were born
February 2, 1585.
is known about why or when Shakespeare left Stratford for London. It may
have been in the late 1580s, since in 1592 there is a hostile
reference to Shakespeare as a prominent actor and playwright by Robert
Greene, a rival playwright.
was a dramatist through and through. Although he also wrote two long
narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, and over 150
sonnets, his main work was writing plays for the theater.
1594 Shakespeare became a charter member of a theatrical company called
the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which became the King's Men in 1603.
Shakespeare held a one-tenth interest in the company, which meant that
he shared the profits. The company's home after 1599 was the
famous Globe Theatre, on the south bank of the River Thames.
prospered well enough in London to make investments in real estate in
Stratford, including the purchase in 1597 of the second largest house in
his entire career, Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays, including
comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances. Scholars dispute
the exact date on which each play was written, but it is possible
that Shakespeare's first play was The Comedy of Errors or Love's
Labor's Lost, written sometime between 1588 and the early 1590s.
His last plays were The Tempest (1612) and Henry VIII (1612-13).
retired from the theater around 1612, and returned to live in Stratford.
He died on April 23, 1616, and was buried within the chancel of the
church at Stratford.