William Shakespeare


August 15, 2022

William Shakespeare is an English playwright, poet and actor baptized on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and died on April 23, 1616 in the same city. Nicknamed "the Bard of Avon", "the Immortal Bard" or simply "the Bard", he is considered one of the greatest poets and playwrights in the English language. His work, translated into many languages, consists of 39 pieces, 154 sonnets and some additional poems, some of which are not attributed to him with certainty. After studying in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18, with whom he had three children. At an unknown date between 1585 and 1592, he began his career as a successful actor and author in London with the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a troupe of which he was a shareholder. He seems to have retired to Stratford around 1613 to die there three years later. There are hardly any traces of the Shakespearean man left, which has spawned much speculation regarding his physical appearance, sexuality, and religion. Marginal theories claim that his work was actually written by someone else. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays between 1589 and 1613. The first were mostly comedies and historical plays, then he devoted himself more to tragedies like Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. At the end of his life, he wrote tragicomedies and collaborated with other playwrights. During his lifetime, many of his plays were published in inexpensive books of varying quality. In 1623, two of his friends published the "First Folio", a collection which included almost all of his theatrical work in definitive form. In his preface, Ben Jonson correctly predicts the timelessness of Shakespeare, whose plays continue to be staged, adapted, rediscovered and reinterpreted over the centuries in varying cultural and political contexts.


Origins, Marriage, and Lost Years

William Shakespeare is the son of John Shakespeare (circa 1531-1601) and Mary Arden (circa 1537-1608). His father, originally from Snitterfield in Warwickshire, was a prosperous glovemaker based in Stratford-upon-Avon where he served as alderman, while his mother was the daughter of a wealthy landowner from Wilmcote. Born in Stratford, William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564. His exact date of birth is unknown. A tradition that has its origins in an error made by the critic George Steevens in the 18th century places it on April 23. This date is taken up by many biographers, seduced by the coincidence with Saint George's Day, the feast of the patron saint of England, as well as with the day of the death of the playwright in 1616. William is the third of the Shakespeares' eight children and the eldest of the sons who survive infancy. Most biographers of Shakespeare consider him likely to have attended King's New School in Stratford, although no attendance records survive from this time. This grammar school was founded by royal charter from Edward VI in 1553 and is less than 500 meters from John Shakespeare's house. English schools vary in quality, but they share the same curriculum by royal decree. It is mainly based on the intensive study of Classical Latin grammar and Latin literature. William Shakespeare was eighteen when he married Anne Hathaway, the twenty-six-year-old daughter of a Shottery yeoman. The consistory of the diocese of Worcester issues a marriage certificate on November 27, 1582, which authorizes the celebration of the marriage after only one publication of the banns instead of three. The next day, two neighbors of Hathaway certify that there are no legal impediments.