William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare was born 1564, Stratford-upon Avon, United Kingdom and died on April 23, 1616 his spouse was Anne Hathaway (m. 1582-1616)

William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. From roughly 1594 onward he was an important member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men company of theatrical players. Written records give little indication of the way in which Shakespeare’s professional life molded his artistry. All that can be deduced is that over the course of 20 years, Shakespeare wrote plays that capture the complete range of human emotion and conflict.

Early Life

Though no birth records exist, church records indicate that a William Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. From this, it is believed he was born on or near April 23, 1564, and this is the date scholars acknowledge as William Shakespeare's birthday.

Located 103 miles west of London, during Shakespeare's time Stratford-upon-Avon was a market town bisected with a country road and the River Avon. William was the third child of John Shakespeare, a leather merchant, and Mary Arden, a local landed heiress. William had two older sisters, Joan and Judith, and three younger brothers, Gilbert, Richard and Edmund. Before William's birth, his father became a successful merchant and held official positions as alderman and bailiff, an office resembling a mayor. However, records indicate John's fortunes declined sometime in the late 1570s.


By 1592, there is evidence William Shakespeare earned a living as an actor
and a playwright in London and possibly had several plays produced. The
September 20, 1592 edition of the Stationers' Register (a guild
publication) includes an article by London playwright Robert Greene that takes
a few jabs at William Shakespeare: "...There is an upstart Crow, beautified with
our feathers, that with his Tiger's heart wrapped in a Player's hide, supposes
he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being
an absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a
country," Greene wrote of Shakespeare.Scholars differ on the interpretation of this criticism, but most agree that it was Greene's way of saying Shakespeare was reaching above his rank, trying to match better known and educated playwrights like
Thomas Nashe or Greene himself.By the early 1590s, documents show William Shakespeare was a managing
partner in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company in London. After the
crowning of King James I, in 1603, the company changed its name to the King's
Men. From all accounts, the King's Men company was very popular, and records
show that Shakespeare had works published and sold as popular literature. The
theater culture in 16th century England was not highly admired by people of
high rank. However, many of the nobility were good patrons of the performing
arts and friends of the actors. Early in his career, Shakespeare was able to
attract the attention of Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, to whom he
dedicated his first- and second-published poems: "Venus and Adonis" (1593) and
"The Rape of Lucrece" (1594) .By 1597, William Shakespeare had published 15 of the 37 plays attributed to
him. Civil records show that at this time he purchased the second largest house
in Stratford, called New House, for his family. It was a four-day ride by horse
from Stratford to London, so it is believed that Shakespeare spent most of his
time in the city writing and acting and came home once a year during the 40-day
Lenten period, when the theaters were closed.By 1599, William Shakespeare and his business partners built their own
theater on the south bank of the Thames River, which they called the Globe. In
1605, Shakespeare purchased leases of real estate near Stratford for 440 pounds,
which doubled in value and earned him 60 pounds a year.

Why was he important ?

William Shakespeare was the most remarkable storyteller that the world has ever known. Homer told of adventure and men at war, Sophocles and Tolstoy told of tragedies and of people in trouble. Terence and Mark Twain told comedic stories, Dickens told melodramatic ones, Plutarch told histories and Hand Christian Andersen told fairy tales. But Shakespeare told every kind of story – comedy, tragedy, history, melodrama, adventure, love stories and fairy tales – and each of them so well that they have become immortal. In all the world of storytelling he has become the greatest name.

Shakespeare’s ability to summarize the range of human emotions in simple yet profoundly eloquent verse is perhaps the greatest reason for his enduring popularity. If you cannot find words to express how you feel about love or music or growing older, Shakespeare can speak for you. No author in the Western world has penned more beloved passages. Shakespeare's work is the reason John Bartlett compiled the first major book of familiar quotations.

Shakespeare invented his share of stock characters, but his truly great characters – particularly his tragic heroes – are unequalled in literature, dwarfing even the sublime creations of the Greek tragedians. Shakespeare’s great characters have remained popular because of their complexity; for example, we can see ourselves as gentle Hamlet, forced against his better nature to seek murderous revenge. For this reason Shakespeare is deeply admired by actors, and many consider playing a Shakespearean character to be the most difficult and most rewarding role possible.

Many of the common expressions now thought to be clichés were Shakespeare's creations. Chances are you use Shakespeare's expressions all the time even though you may not know it is the Bard you are quoting. You may think that fact is "neither here nor there", but that's "the short and the long of it." Bernard Levin said it best in the following quote about Shakespeare's impact on our language: If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I were dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! for goodness' sake! what the dickens! but me no buts - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

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