William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language and the world’s preeminent dramatist. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, on April 26, 1564, to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, who were both from prominent families.
Shakespeare’s education is somewhat of a mystery, but it is believed that he attended King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford, where he learned Latin, Greek, and the classics. In 1582, at the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, who was 8 years his senior and already pregnant with their first child, Susanna. They had two more children, twins Hamnet and Judith, in 1585.
Shakespeare began his career in the theater as an actor and writer in London in the early 1590s. His early plays, such as “Henry VI” and “Titus Andronicus,” were successful and established his reputation as a playwright. In the late 1590s, he wrote some of his most famous works, including “Romeo and Juliet,” “Julius Caesar,” and “Hamlet.”
Shakespeare’s plays were performed at the Globe Theatre, which he co-owned, and at other theaters in London. He wrote about a wide range of topics, from love and romance to politics and history. His plays were popular with both the common people and the aristocracy, and he became very wealthy as a result.
In addition to his plays, Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets, which are among the most famous in the English language. They explore themes of love, beauty, mortality, and the nature of art.
Shakespeare retired to Stratford in the early 17th century, where he died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52. He was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, and his epitaph reads, “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear, / To dig the dust enclosed here. / Blest be the man that spares these stones, / And curst be he that moves my bones.”
Today, Shakespeare’s plays are still performed around the world and have been translated into every major language. His influence on English literature and culture cannot be overstated, and he remains one of the most beloved and celebrated writers in history.