William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was a great English playwright, dramatist and poet who lived
during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Shakespeare is considered
to be the greatest playwright of all time. No other writer's plays have been produced so
many times or read so widely in so many countries as his.

Shakespeare was born to middle class parents. His father, John, was a Stratford
businessman. He was a glove maker who owned a leather shop. John Shakespeare was
a well known and respected man in the town. He held several important local
governmental positions. William Shakespeare's mother was Mary Arden. Though she was
the daughter of a local farmer, she was related to a family of considerable wealth and
social standing. Mary Arden and John Shakespeare were married in 1557.

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. He was one of eight children. The
Shakespeare's were well respected prominent people. When William Shakespeare was
about seven years old, he probably began attending the Stratford Grammar School with
other boys of his social class. Students went to school year round attending school for
nine hours a day. The teachers were strict disciplinarians.

Though Shakespeare spent long hours at school, his boyhood was probably fascinating.
Stratford was a lively town and during holidays, it was known to put on pageants and
many popular shows. It also held several large fairs during the year. Stratford was a
exciting place to live. Stratford also had fields and woods surrounding it giving William
the opportunity to hunt and trap small game. The River Avon which ran through the
town allowed him to fish also. Shakespeare's' poems and plays show his love of nature
and rural life which reflects his childhood.

On November 28, 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway of the neighboring village
of Shottery. She was twenty-six, and he was only eighteen at the time. They had
three children. Susana was their first and then they had twins, Hamnet and Judith.
Hamnet, Shakespeare's son, died in 1596. In 1607, his daughter Susana got married.
Shakespeare's other daughter, Judith, got married in 1616.

In London, Shakespeare's career took off. It is believed that he may have become well
known in London theatrical life by 1592. By that time, he had joined one of the city's
repertory theater companies. These companies were made up of a permanent cast of
actors who presented different plays week after week. The companies were commercial
organizations that depended on admission from their audience. Scholars know that
Shakespeare belonged to one of the most popular acting companies in London called
The Lord Chamberlain's Men. Shakespeare was a leading member of the group from
1594 for the rest of his career. By 1594, at least six of Shakespeare's plays had been

During Shakespeare's life, there were two monarchs who ruled England. They were
Henry the eighth and Elizabeth the first. Both were impressed with Shakespeare which
made his name known. There is evidence that he was a member of a traveling theater
group, and a schoolmaster. In 1594, he became an actor and playwright for Lord
Chamberlain's Men. In 1599, he became a part owner of the prosperous Globe Theater.
He also was a part owner of the Blackfriars Theater as of 1609. Shakespeare retired to
Stratford in 1613 where he wrote many of his excellent plays.

There are many reasons as to why William Shakespeare is so famous. He is generally
considered to be both the greatest dramatist the world has ever known as well as the
finest poet who has written in the English language. Many reasons can be given for
Shakespeare's enormous appeal. His fame basically is from his great understanding of
human nature. He was able to find universal human qualities and put them in a dramatic
situation creating characters that are timeless. Yet he had the ability to create
characters that are highly individual human beings. Their struggles in life are universal.
Sometimes they are successful and sometimes their lives are full of pain, suffering, and

In addition to his understanding and realistic view of human nature, Shakespeare had a
vast knowledge of a variety of subjects. These subjects include music, law, Bible,
stage, art, politics, history, hunting, and sports. Shakespeare had a tremendous
influence on culture and literature throughout the world. He contributed greatly to the
development of the English language. Many words and phrases from Shakespeare's
plays and poems have become part of our speech. Shakespeare's plays and poems
have become a required part of education in the United States. Therefore, his ideas on
subjects such as romantic love, heroism, comedy, and tragedy