William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Amazing but true – William Shakespeare was born and died on the same date!

William was born in 1564 and whilst the exact date s not known, he celebrated his birthday on St. George’s Day, April 23rd.

People the world over know of William Shakespeare, the celebrated playwright who penned such renowned plays as The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

William was the third child born to John and Mary Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. John and Mary had seven children in total but when John died in 1616 he left the little land he owned to William who was the eldest son.

Little is known of William’s early childhood other than the fact he attended a good grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon where most of the teachers were graduates of Oxford University.

At the age of 18. William married Anne Hathaway who was older than him to the tune of 7 or 8 years. They had a daughter together; Susanna followed by twins, Hamnet and Judith.

The years after the birth of the twins is known as the ‘invisible years’ (1585 – 1592) as nothing is documented about William during this time but many think it likely that during this time William was a schoolmaster after which time he appears in London.

It seems that during his time in London, William’s family remained in Stratford and he would visit them whenever time would allow.

In 1592 it appears that William’s career as a playwright was established and his earliest plays were Titus and Andronicus, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and the three parts of Henry VI.

William also published poems such as Venus and Adonis (1593). His poems were dedicated to his patron, the Earl of Southampton who was a favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I.

William produced around 2 plays a year as well as several sonnets and poems and his plays were performed by a theatre company that he formed in 1594 along with others under the patronage of the Lord Chamberlain.

John Shakespeare, William’s father was granted a coat – of – arms for the family name and when William inherited this on his father’s death in 1601, William was entitled to style himself as a gentleman.

William’s plays were a great success in London and he became a wealthy man. Although he lived in London, he maintained close links with his beloved hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and owned several properties there.

William continued to enjoy success when his theatre group found a new patron in the form of King James I (who came to the throne after Elizabeth I death) in 1603 and the group became known as the King’s Men.
The King’s Men performed in William’s London theatres The Globe and the Blackfriars as well as in the courts of the royal palaces.

William retired from the London limelight in 1611 and moved back to Stratford where he enjoyed his time with his family. Daughter Susanna had married and given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth and other daughter Judith had also found a husband. Both girls lived in Stratford. Unfortunately, William had lost his son Hamnet who had died at the age of eleven.

William died on his birthday at the age of fifty-two in 1616 and left most of his estate to his daughter Susanna. The cause of William’s death was unknown but it is likely to have been ‘old age’ as this was a fair age to die in England at this time.

There are some people who question the fact that William actually wrote all of the works credited to him. These people question whether a man who was devoted to family, married to the same woman for years and led a sober life could find the passion inside to write some of the amazing works that have become legendary. These people claim that William did not have the relevant education that would befit an author of his status.

But there is no proof other than hearsay to back up these claims and William Shakespeare remains a revered writer to this day. The fact that his work is still performed all around the world today means that his name will continue to live on.

The Major Works of William Shakespeare

Henry VI (parts I-III)
Richard III
King John
Richard II
Henry IV (parts I – II)
Henry V
Henry VIII

Romeo and Juliet
King Lear

Greek and Roman Plays
Titus Andronicus
Julius Caesar
Troilus and Cressida
Timon of Athens
Antony and Cleopatra

The Comedy of Errors
Love’s Labours Lost
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Taming of the Shrew
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
As You Like It
Twelfth Night
Much Ado About Nothing
All’s Well That Ends Well
Measure for Measure
The Winter’s Tale
The Tempest