William Shakespeare: Biography, Major Plays & Death


William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is known as a poet of English descent.  He was a playwright who also doubled up as an actor with an ageless talent.  William was born and bred in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden.  William’s exact date of birth is not certain. However, he was baptized on April 26, 1564.

Early Life

In 1582, when William was eighteen, he got married to Anne Hathaway.  The couple had three children, Susanna, Judith, and Hamnet. Judith and Hamnet were twins.  Hamnet died when he was only eleven. The cause of his death is unknown.

It is widely believed that William Shakespeare arrived in London in 1592.  Where he became a theatre entrepreneur in London during the late Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, working as a partner of a company called “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men”, later renamed “The King’s Men”.  Due to the great success of his plays, sonnets, and poems, he was acknowledged as the greatest English writer.

Though the life story of William Shakespeare is quite sketchy, the unproven information there is about his education is that he attended the free grammar school in Stratford. The only things that add credence to this claim is his proficiency in Latin and classic Greek.

He was counted as just one of many talented poets and playwrights, but opinions changed when he kept on churning up one gripping plot after another and he finally won the admiration and respect of his peers and critics.  Shakespeare, after 1592 had put together his own company, “The Theatre” and the “Curtain” in London in Shoreditch at the north side of the Thames River.  From there, he and his company moved to a theatre they built themselves in Southwark close to the River Thames.  This new edifice was called the “Globe Theatre”.

A man of great insight into the state of the human psyche, William Shakespeare wrote plays that touched on all aspects of human nature with resounding success.  This talent touches lives even now in the 20th century.  His works are found in movies and on stages in many languages, as well as in western philosophy and literature.

His work can be classified as comedies, histories, tragedies, “tragicomedies, romances”.  He did not do all the work alone but often worked with other playwrights.

Referred to by many complementary names as “England’s national poet, the “Bard of Avon”, his works have been translated into every widely spoken language in the world.  His plays are also amongst the most read and performed.  They are also part of school literature curricular in many countries.

The magic of Shakespeare’s works is that it touches and colors all aspects of human endeavor, school, politics, and business.  One can therefore safely say that the name of William Shakespeare and his work is known almost all over the world.

Most Famous Plays

Some of William Shakespeare’s early recorded plays come under “Historical Drama” and some of the tiles are “Richard III and Henry VI”, which comes in three parts.  Other plays such as “Comedy of Errors”, “The Taming of The Shrew”, and lastly, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” also belong to his early years of creativity.

His stories were mainly based on trending issues at the time and to a great extent influenced by a number of other successful dramatists.  One such person was Thomas Kid, a renowned English Dramatist.  Another good example is Christopher Marlowe and the then-trendy stories woven by Seneca.  The fact that he appeared on the scene at the right time must have been the reason for William’s almost instant success at the theatres.

William Shakespeare wrote widely from comedy, lyrical plays, verse and even introduced what is called prose comedy.  His plays could and can still carry you through a gauntlet of emotions.  His tragedies were especially haunting.  What remains with one is his mastery over words that can be quoted in all situations in life.

One such example can be found in Hamlet, in which the main character thinking out loud begins with the much quoted, “To be or not to be…” followed by many others, of which another such unforgettable tragedy is found in Macbeth, were in a bid to reign as King and Queen, the couple Macbeth murder reigning monarch to take over his throne.  The guilt they feel is very poignant and destroys them in the end.  One can go on and on about Shakespeare’s works as the list is inexhaustible.

From magic, politics, tragedy, jealousy, love, supernatural elements, from greed and sheer wickedness in the “Merchant of Venice” to sacrificial love in the play “Romeo and Juliet”, William Shakespeare covers it all.

When William’s carrier was about to end, he wrote three romantic plays that did amazingly well. “Cymbeline”, “The Winter’s Tale”, “The Tempest” and there was a collaboration on the play “Pericles Prince of Tyre”.  All of these were toned down and maybe reflect a calmer phase in life or the going trend for readers and theatre patrons at that time.

In all, William Shakespeare wrote approximately thirty-nine (39) plays and one hundred and fifty-four (154) sonnets and a good number of poems.

After all of his successes, William Shakespeare retired to his home in Stratford-upon-Avon at the age of forty-nine, where he died after three years.

Unfortunately, questions that never arose while he was alive to defend himself arose about one hundred and fifty years after his death. People questioned whether or not the much-touted William Shakespeare actually was the author of his plays himself, due to the sketchy official evidence about his personal life.  Names such as Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere and last but not the least Francis Bacon who were better known, were speculated to have penned the plays attributed to him.

How did William Shakespeare die?

It is believed, William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 (a report that has no official record) in his hometown, Stanford-upon-Avon and was interred at the Church of the Holy Trinity, on April 25, 1616 (there are church records to this effect).  His grave was inscribed with what is referred to as “Shakespeare’s Curse”, a blessing to anyone who would not desecrate his tomb and a curse upon anyone who would excavate it and move his bones.  Being the poet that he was, it is as though he wrote down those words with his own hand.

Till date, William Shakespeare of Stanford-upon-Avon is indisputably one of the very finest writers to come out of England and is accorded great respect all over the world for his works.

Top William Shakespeare Quotes

William Shakespeare Quotes

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