William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is the best-known poet and playwright of the English language. He is the greatest poet and dramatist of all time. Shakespeare is often called "The Bard”.
William was born in April 1564
(exact date unknown)in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England and died on the 23rd of April 1616.
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, a successful glover and Mary Arden, the daughter of a farmer. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.
This is Shakespeare's Birthplace, in Henley Street, and just beyond it is the Shakespeare Centre which houses various Shakespeare exhibits. The garden of the Birthplace is just visible to visitors over the fence, but entry into the Birthplace is charged and is quite expensive. Entry into the Birthplace is through the Shakespeare Centre.
This is the old Grammar School, where Shakespeare went to school. The school was built in 1428 as the home of a religious guild. The Guild Chapel is the church-like building at the left.
This picture shows the inside of the schoolroom in which Shakespeare studied. The curriculum was mainly based on Latin, studying such authors as Virgil and Ovid. The curriculum would also have included some Greek, probably Homer.
Here is the desk where Shakespeare's teacher sat.
This plaque on the schoolroom wall states that Shakespeare studied in this room.
At the age of 18, Shakespeare married
Anne Hathaway. William and Anne had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith.
Between 1585 and 1592 William began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men.
It is not known exactly when Shakespeare began writing, but contemporary allusions and records of performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592.
Reconstructed Globe Theatre, London.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances.
His best-known tragedies are: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello.
His best-known comedies are: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and All’s Well That Ends Well.
Ophelia (detail). By John Everett Millais, 1851–2. Tate Britain.
Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing. By William Blake, c. 1786. Tate Britain.
Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and the Ghost of Hamlet's Father. Henry Fuseli, 1780–5. Kunsthaus Zürich.
Many great artists depicted Shakespeare’s characters
Sir John Gilbert's 1849 painting: The Plays of William Shakespeare, containing scenes and characters from several of William Shakespeare's plays.
Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets
Shakespeare reciting his sonnets
William Shakespeare made his will early in 1616, about the time his daughter Judith married Thomas Quincey; and on the twenty-third day of April, the same day of the same month in which he is supposed to have been born, he died. Two days later he was buried in the chancel of the Church of the Holy Trinity at Stratford, where, on the now famous grave, are carved the lines:
“Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare
To dig the dust enclosed here;
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.”
Shakespeare was both baptized, and now rests, in Holy Trinity Church, which is alongside the Avon.
This is the spot where he lies.
"O, such another sleep, that I might seeBut such another man,..As this I dream'd of".
Around 150 years after Shakespeare's death, doubts began to emerge about the authorship of Shakespeare's works. Alternative candidates proposed include Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. Although all alternative candidates are almost universally rejected in academic circles, popular interest in the subject, particularly the Oxfordian theory, has continued into the 21st century.
But people of the 21 century remember William Shakespeare: read his wonderful works, film his comedies and tragedies. April 23rd (St George's Day) is the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, and is a time of celebrations in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Among many events is a procession through the town, of bands, civic dignitaries, actors, morris dancers, and the staff and pupils of some local schools.
April 23rd –the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthin Stratford-upon-Avon
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