all about William Shakespeare


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Early Life


Later Life

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Shakespeare's Early Life

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, in April 1564, the son of John Shakespeare, a successful tradesman, and of Mary Arden, a daughter of the gentry. They lived on Henley Street. His baptismal record dates to April 26 of that year. Because baptisms were performed within a few days of birth, tradition has settled on April 23 as his birthday. It provides a convenient symmetry: he died on that day in 1616, and perhaps appropriately for a playwright commonly considered to be England's greatest, it is also the Feast Day of Saint George, the patron saint of England.

The house in Stratford known as 'Shakespeare's Birthplace' (although this status is uncertain). It is claimed that the poet was born in the room with the checked windows. Shakespeare's father, prosperous at the time of William's birth, was prosecuted for participating in the black market in wool, and later lost his position as an alderman. Some evidence pointed to possible Roman Catholic sympathies on both sides of the family.

As the son of a prominent town official, William Shakespeare probably attended King Edward VI Grammar school in central Stratford, which may have provided an intensive education in Latin grammar and literature. The quality of Elizabethan-era grammar schools was uneven. It is presumed that the young Shakespeare attended this school, since he was entitled to, although this cannot be confirmed because the school's records have not survived. There is no evidence that his formal education extended beyond grammar school.

Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, on November 28, 1582 at Temple Grafton, near Stratford. Two neighbours of Anne, Fulk Sandalls and John Richardson, posted bond that there were no impediments to the marriage. There appears to have been some haste in arranging the ceremony: Anne was three months pregnant. After his marriage, William Shakespeare left few traces in the historical record until he appeared on the London literary scene.

The late 1580s are known as Shakespeare's 'Lost Years' because no evidence has survived to show exactly where he was or why he left Stratford for London. One legend is that he was caught poaching deer on the park of Sir Thomas Lucy, the local Justice of the Peace, and had to flee. Another theory is that Shakespeare could have joined the Lord Chamberlain's Men when they travelled through Stratford while on tour. The seventeenth-century biographer John Aubrey believed that Shakespeare spent some time as "a schoolmaster in the country".

On May 26, 1583 Shakespeare's first child, Susanna, was baptised at Stratford. A son, Hamnet, and a daughter, Judith, were baptised soon after on February 2, 1585.


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