William Shakespeare

English playwright and poet (1564-1616)

William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616)[a] was an English playwright, poet, and actor. He wrote 39 plays (with about half of them considered comedies) and two long poems in his lifetime. He lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, England. His plays are still performed today. He is often quoted in modern writing.

William Shakespeare
Shakespeare.jpg
Born
Baptised26 April 1564
Died23 April 1616 (aged 52)
Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Resting placeChurch of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon
Occupation
  • Playwright
  • poet
  • actor
Years activec. 1585–1613
Era
MovementEnglish Renaissance
Spouse(s)
Anne Hathaway (m. 1582)
Children
Parents
Signature
William Shakespeare Signature.svg
Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare's Memorial Theatre opened in 1879 and burned down in 1926. It was replaced by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Shakespeare wrote his works between about 1590 and 1613. His plays are among the best known in English literature and are studied in schools around the world. Along with writing, Shakespeare also acted in The Chamberlain's Men acting company, starting in 1594.

Shakespeare wrote plays of different kinds, or genres. There are histories, tragedies and comedies. Shakespeare was the first person ever to write a tragicomedy. (A tragicomedy is a play that mixes comedy and tragedy, with a happy ending.)

Shakespeare's plays are written in poetic language. Many of the plays are set in strange, distant places and times. The stories are often exciting, very funny (in the comedies), or very sad (in the tragedies). These stories make people want to know what will happen to the characters. The plays talk about things that are still important today, like love, sadness, hope, pride, hatred, jealousy, and foolishness.

Shakespeare added new words and phrases to the English language. He created over 1,700 English words.[2] He also made some words more popular.[3]

William Shakespeare in a nutshell

LifeEdit

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. His date of birth is usually given as 23 April, though the exact date is unknown. [4] He was the third of eight children. Shakespeare was probably educated at the King's New School in Stratford.[4] Latin was popular in in grammar schools during the Elizabethan era, so Shakespeare learned Latin very intensively. [5]

When Shakespeare was 18, he married Anne Hathaway, a 26-year-old woman. Their wedding was rushed because Anne was already pregnant. They had three children: Susanna (who married John Hall); Hamnet (who died at the age of 11 from unknown causes); and Judith (who married Thomas Quiney). By 1592, Shakespeare had become an actor and was becoming well known as a writer of plays.

At the time of his death in 1616, only some of Shakespeare’s plays had been published in single editions. His plays were collected and published in 1623, seven years after he died. There is proof that people in Shakespeare's time thought highly of him. After his death, even his rival Ben Jonson said:[6]

"Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!"

Shakespeare was involved in the building of the Globe Theatre in 1599. (It burned down a few years later.) His plays are still performed at a new Globe Theatre, built in 1997 near the original.

Marriage and sexualityEdit

Although Shakespeare was married to a woman and fathered three children, people have debated his sexuality. Some people, such as Peter Holland of the Shakespeare Institute at Birmingham University, have pointed out that Shakespeare directed some of his sonnets towards young men.[7] They say this is evidence that he may have been bisexual.[7]

Who wrote "Shakespeare"?Edit

About 150 years after his death, some writers suggested that Shakespeare did not actually write all of the works that are called his. They had various reasons for saying this. For example, the person who wrote "Shakespeare’s works" knew a lot about other countries (especially Italy and France), but William Shakespeare never left England. Several other writers of "Shakespeare" have been suggested, such as Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. However, most scholars believe that William Shakespeare did write the works that bear his name.[8]

List of Shakespeare's playsEdit

 
Timon of Athens
 
Postumus and Imogen

Shakespeare's tragediesEdit

Shakespeare's comediesEdit

Shakespeare's historiesEdit

Other playsEdit

Shakespeare's tragicomediesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Dates follow the Julian calendar, used in England throughout Shakespeare's lifespan, but with the start of the year adjusted to 1 January (see Old Style and New Style dates). Under the Gregorian calendar, adopted in Catholic countries in 1582, Shakespeare died on 3 May.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Schoenbaum 1987, p. xv.
  2. "Words Shakespeare Invented".
  3. Vernon, Jennifer (22 April 2004). "Shakespeare's Coined Words Now Common Currency". news.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Schoenbaum, S. (1987). William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life (Revised ed.). Oxford:
  5. Baldwin, T.W. (1944). William Shakspere's Small Latine & Lesse Greek.1. Urbana, Ill:
  6. Jonson, Ben 1996. "To the memory of my beloued, The AVTHOR MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: AND what he hath left vs", in Shakespeare, William; Hinman, Charlton (ed.); Blayney, The First Folio of Shakespeare. 2nd ed, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 0393039854
  7. 7.0 7.1 "BBC News | ARTS | Painting sparks bard sexuality debate". BBC News. London: BBC. 22 April 2002. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  8. Montagne, Renee (3 July 2008). "Who wrote Shakespeare's plays? Debate goes on". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 14 April 2011.[permanent dead link]

Other websitesEdit