Short Biography of William Shakespeare and Some Important Facts of His Life

William Shakespeare is widely considered the greatest dramatist of all time. He is the national poet of England. Dr. Samuel Johnson called William Shakespeare Poet of Human Nature. Shakespeare is considered as the greatest superstar of the world and he is also called the King without a Crown. In this article, readers will have some information about the Bard of Avon, Shakespeare. You may consider it as the short biography of Williams Shakespeare.


William Shakespeare was born on April 23 or 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Wiliam Shakespeare's father's name is John Shakespeare and mother's name is Mary Arden Shakespeare. He was the fourth child of her parents. In professional life, William Shakespeare was an actor at Globe Theater in London. In 1598, Francis Merse, a lawyer, described Shakespeare Britain's greatest dramatist.

It should be mentioned here that from roughly 1594 onward William Shakespeare was one of the important members of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men company of theatrical players. Some written documents have provided little indication of the way in which Shakespeare’s professional life molded his artistry to the present world. All that can be deduced is that over the course of 20 years, Shakespeare wrote plays that capture the complete range of human emotion and conflict.

Known around the world, William Shakespeare's works have been performed in countless villages, towns, cities and metropolises for over 400 years. Although William Shakespeare's works are well-known to the whole world, his personal history is still a mystery till today. His personal life is mysterious probably because of two different types of sources of information about him. These two types of sources include: 1) his literary works;  2) some official documents and court records about him.

Though no birth records exist that can prove when William Shakes was born. But researchers got a church record indicating that William Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. Only because of this document, it is believed that he was born on or near April 23, 1564, and this is the date scholars acknowledge as William Shakespeare's birthday. Some people believe that William Shakesoeare was born on 26 April. Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, was a market town bisected with a country road and the River Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon is located 103 miles west.

William Shakespeare's parents John Shakespeare and Mary Arden Shakespeare had 6 children and; he was the fourth child of them. His father was a leather merchant and mother was a local landed heress. Records tells us that vefore William's birth, his father became a successful merchant and held official positions as alderman and bailiff, an office resembling a mayor. However, the records also indicate that John's fortunes declined sometime in the late 1570s.

Very few documents exist about William Shakespeare's childhood and there is virtually nothing about his education. Scholars speculate that he probably attended King's New School in Stratford, where he was taught reading, writing and classics. Being the son of a government official, William would have undoubtedly qualified for tuition free education. But because of this uncertainty about his education, some have questioned the authorship of his work and even about whether or not William Shakespeare ever existed.

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582 in Worcester, Canterbury. Hathaway came from Shatri, a mile west of Stratford. His wife was senior to him by 8 years. When William Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway, he was only an 18-year old teeager and Anne was 26, and she was apparently pregnant then.

Their first child, a daughter, was born within six months of their wedding. They named her Susanna. Susana was born on May 26, 1583. Two years after the birth of their first child they were blessed with twins. On February 2, 1585, twins Hamnet and Judith were born to them. But Hamnett later died of unknown causes at the age of 11.

There is no record for a long 7 years of Shakespeare's life after the birth of his twins. Scholars call this period the "lost years," and there is widespread speculation as to what he did during this period.

What were the reasons behind the 'lost years' of William Shakespeare? One theory is that he probably hid from the local landlord, Sir Thomas Lucy, for hunting. Another possibility is that he is working as an assistant schoolmaster in Lancashire. It is generally believed that he arrived in London in the mid-1580s and worked as a cavalryman in some of London's best theaters, a scenario that was updated centuries later by countless aspiring actors and playwrights in Hollywood and Broadway.

By 1592, William Shakespeare earned his living as an actor and playwright in London. Some evidence tells us that he probably produced several plays.

When in 1952 he emerged as an actor and a playwright, he received the title of “upstart crow” from Robert Greene.

In the early 1590s, documents show that William Shakespeare was the managing partner of Lord Chamberlain's Men. Lord Chamberlain's Men was a London-based acting company. After the coronation of King James I in 1603, the company was renamed King's Men.

From all accounts, the King's Men Company was very popular, and records show that Shakespeare's works were published and sold as popular literature. Theater culture in 16th century England was not very much admired by the elite. However, many of the elite were good patrons of the performing arts and friends of the actors. Early in his career, William Shakespeare was able to attract the attention of Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. Shakespeare dedicated his first- and second-published poems: 'Venus and Adonis' and 'The Rape of Lucrece'. 'Venus and Adonis' was published in 1593 and 'The Rape of Lucrece' was published in 1594.

We know that William Shakespeare has 37 plays; 15 of the 37 were published by 1597. At that time Shakespeare bought the second largest house in Stratford; this proves how rich he was then. He became rich because his earnings from writing and playing roles in plays was so high. London was 4-day-horse-ride away from Stratford so he stayed in London most of the time of his career. He came home once every 40 days.

Shakespeare had earned money and fame together; at that time he was considered the best dramatist of the time. Acting skills kept him busy almost all the time. One day he decided to set up a theater of his own and discussed it with some of his colleagues and acquaintances. 

By 1599, William Shakespeare had built own theater on the south bank of the River Thames. Name of the theater was 'The Globe'. The Globe was built in partnerships.

In 1605, Shakespeare bought a real estate lease from Stratford for 4,040 pounds which had been doubled in value, and he earned 60 pounds in a year. He had made him an entrepreneur, dramatist, and artist. Only because of his investments in different businesses gave him time to write his plays uninterruptedly.

William Shakespeare wrote his early plays in the conventional style of his time that included elaborate metaphors and rhetorical phrases. Style of that type of writing  did not always align naturally with the plot or characters of stories. Although Shakespeare wrote in the conventional form, he was very innovative that had made him immortal in the history of literature. He adapted the traditional style to his own purposes and created a freer flow of words. With only small degrees of variation, Shakespeare primarily used a metrical pattern consisting of lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter, or blank verse, to compose his plays.

William Shakespeare died on his birthday, April 23, 1616. He is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.


Some Important Facts of William Shakespeare's Life

  • In 1585, Shakespeare disappeared for almost seven years, and historians call this period of life as “the lost years.”

  • When in 1952 he emerged as an actor and a playwright, he received the title of “upstart crow” from Robert Greene.

  • Shakespeare is credited by the Oxford English Dictionary to have introduced almost 3,000 words in the English language.

  • He wrote 37 plays and more than 150 sonnets and other poems.

  • Shakespeare is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in his hometown of Stratford, Warwickshire.

Best Plays of William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Othello, King Lear, Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Hamlet.

Best Poems of William Shakespeare: The Rape of Lucrece, The Phoenix and the Turtle, Sonnet 20, Sonnet 1, Sonnet 73, Venus and Adonis, Sonnet 29, Sonnet 130, Sonnet 116, and Sonnet 18.

List of Plays by William Shakespeare Shakespeare

This is an alphabetically ordered list of plays by William Shakespeare. Dates following titles indicate the dates the plays were written unless otherwise noted. Asterisks (*) indicate plays likely written by Shakespeare and other playwrights, though evidence has been disputed. Edward III and Cardenio (Double Falsehood) have also been attributed wholly or partly to Shakespeare, but that attribution is not generally accepted.

  1. All’s Well That Ends Well (1601–05)

  2. Antony and Cleopatra (1606–07)

  3. As You Like It (1598–1600)

  4. The Comedy of Errors (1589–94)

  5. Coriolanus (c. 1608)

  6. Cymbeline (1608–10)

  7. Hamlet (c. 1599–1601)

  8. Henry IV, Part 1 (c. 1596–97)

  9. Henry IV, Part 2 (1597–98)

  10. Henry V (c. 1599)

  11. Henry VI, Part 1 (1589–92)

  12. Henry VI, Part 2 (1590–92)

  13. Henry VI, Part 3 (1590–93)

  14. Henry VIII* (first produced 1613)

  15. Julius Caesar (first produced 1599–1600)

  16. King John (c. 1594–96)

  17. King Lear (1605–06)

  18. Love’s Labour’s Lost (between 1588 and 1597)

  19. Macbeth (1606–07)

  20. Measure for Measure (c. 1603–04)

  21. The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596–97)

  22. The Merry Wives of Windsor (between 1597 and 1601)

  23. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (c. 1595–96)

  24. Much Ado About Nothing (probably 1598–99)

  25. Othello (1603–04)

  26. Pericles (c. 1606–08)

  27. Richard II (1595–96)

  28. Richard III (c. 1592–94)

  29. Romeo and Juliet (c. 1594–96)

  30. The Taming of the Shrew (between 1590–94)

  31. The Tempest (c. 1611)

  32. Timon of Athens* (between 1605–08)

  33. Titus Andronicus (between 1589–92)

  34. Troilus and Cressida (c. 1601–02)

  35. Twelfth Night (c. 1600–02)

  36. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (probably between 1590–94)

  37. The Two Noble Kinsmen* (c. 1612–14)

  38. The Winter’s Tale (c. 1609–11)


Adapted from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Biography.com and other sources.

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