(If you want to learn 10 things you didn't know about William Shakespeare, click on the image above)
William Shakespeare was born on or just before April 23, 1564 in the small but important town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His father, John Shakespeare, was a glove maker and trader in farm produce; while his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a landowner from a neighboring village.
No personal documents survive from Shakespeare's school years, but probably he studied Latin grammar during the early years, then progressed to the study of logic, rethoric, composition, oration, versification, and Roman literature, like any other Elizabethan schoolboy.
He married Ann Hathaway at the age of 18 and they had three children: Susana (1583-1649), and the twins Hamnet (1585-1596), and Judith (1585-1662). There is no solid evidence of Shakespeare activities during the years of 1585 and 1592, giving room to speculations about him as a traveling actor or a country schoolmaster. Shakespeare remained actively involved in Stratford affairs throughout his life, even when living in London.
Shakespeare was a popular dramatist and committed his entire adult life to the public theater, and wrote non-dramatic poetry when the theater was closed due to the plague that affected London during much of 1593 and 1594.
In 1611 he retired to Stratford and returned to London to compose Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen. He died at the age of 52, on April 23, 1616. He remained so popular after his death, that a pair of actors gathered all his plays and publish them in the Folio edition in 1623. Without their efforts, since Shakespeare was apparently not interested in publication, many of the plays would not have survived.
Most dates for Shakespeare's plays are conjectural and may be one or two years off.
1590: The Comedy of Errors
1590-1592: Henry VI
1591: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
1593: Love's Labour Lost, Titus Andronicus
1593-1594: Venus and Adonis (poem), Rape of Lucrece (poem), Sonnets
1594: Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew
1595: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II
1596: The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, King John
1597: Henry IV
1598: Much Ado About Nothing
1599: Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar
1600: As You Like It
1602: All's Well That Ends Well, Troilus and Cressida
1604: Measure for Measure, Othello
1605: King Lear
1607-1608: Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens
1611: The Winter's Tale, The Tempest
1613: Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen
This Libguide was created to support Wolfson Campus Library's April Display celebrating the 450th birthday of William Shakespere, but it also contains information to help with any research about William Shakespeare.