William Shakespeare

A characteristic writer and playwright of the Elizabethan period, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in England in 1564. His father John Shakespeare started his career as a tanner but progressed through various roles and positions in life from a burgess (representative of a town) to a bailiff (equivalent to a Mayor). His mother Mary Arden was the daughter of a landowner and belonged to one of the most prominent families of Warwickshire.

Precise details about Shakespeare’s schooling and education are not known. He had little formal education, attended Stratford’s Grammar School but did not attend a university. Despite his lack of formal education, Shakespeare was well versed in classical learning. His voracious reading and his career as an actor exposed him to various kinds of literary and historical sources as base for his plays.

At the young age of eighteen, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway who was eight years older to him and carrying his child. They had three children- Susanna, Hamnet and Judith but only two of his daughters survived. While his family lived in Stratford, Shakespeare embarked on his career as an actor, writer and part-owner of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, an acting company in London. He gained financially from his career and invested much of his wealth in properties in Stratford, where he also retired during the end of his lifetime.

Shakespeare’s literary life can be divided into four main periods: Pre-1594 (King Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, etc.), 1594–1600 (King Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, etc.), 1601–1608 (Macbeth, King Lear, etc.) and Post-1608 (Cymbeline, The Tempest, etc.). Apart from 38 plays, he also wrote 154 sonnets. His first collection of works was published posthumously in 1623.

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