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William Shakespeare's Biography

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The biographical details laid out below appear relatively commonly accepted 'facts' by respected sources, however nothing about Shakespeare's life seems to attract consensus.

There have been many biographies of William Shakespeare often hotly contesting extremely different points of view. For more background here is a recent review in The Guardian which discusses Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt.

Indeed, there is constant speculation and investigation into whether Shakespeare's works were written by others. Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Oxford and most recently Sir Henry Neville have all been put forward as candidates.

William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, was a master dramatist of both comedy and tragedy. Works such as Macbeth, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice have established him as the world's greatest dramatist.

Basic Biographical Data

  • William Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon in April 1564;
  • He was baptised on 26 April 1564;
  • Shakespeare was buried in Straford 25 April 1616. A monument near his grave says he died on April 23;
  • The dramatist's mother was Mary Arden, who around 1557 married John Shakespeare, who in 1568 reached the position of Straford's highest political office - high bailiff;
  • On 27 November 1582 a marriage license was issued to Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. They had a child, Susanna, soon after in May 1583 and then twins in 1585. The boy, Hamnet died young; the other twin was named Judith;
  • By 1592 there are references to Shakespeare as an actor and a writer;
  • Between 1592 and 1594 the theatres closed due to the plague and Shakespeare turned to writing sonnets;
  • In 1594 he was a member of a theatrical company, Chamberlain's Men, which acted primarily at the Globe Theatre. When James I came to the throne he conferred royal patronage on the company and they became the King's Men. Shakespeare owned a tenth of the Globe, and he had a share of the Blackfriars Theatre which the King's Men took over in 1608;
  • By 1612 he withdrew from his life in the Blackfriar's Theatre and his life in London and returned to Stratford.

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