William Shakespeare is one of the most well-known poets and playwrights. Many of his pieces are studied by students today, and his plays continue to be performed. It's speculated that he was born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon because he was baptized at Holy Trinity Church on April 26, 1564.
At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had three children. Hathaway was pregnant with their first at the wedding. Their son, who had a twin sister, died during boyhood.
Shakespeare started his career as an actor. The London theaters were closed between 1592 and 1594 due to the outbreak of the plague. This time off of acting gave Shakespeare a chance to focus on writing sonnets and his own plays.
The first two poems published by Shakespeare were Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594).
In 1594 Shakespeare joined Lord Chamberlain's company of actors, which was the most popular acting company at court. A few years later in 1599, he joined a group of Chamberlain's Men that would build and operate The Globe, the most famous playhouse of its time.
Shakespeare wrote more than 30 plays that are grouped into one of four categories: histories, comedies, tragedies, and romances. His most well-known plays are tragedies. He also wrote 152 sonnets. Shakespearean sonnets follow a specific structure. They are written with fourteen lines, which are broken apart into three quatrains and a couplet. The rhyme scheme for this type of sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg.
Shakespeare retired from the stage sometime after 1612. He passed away on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52.
Interesting Facts about William Shakespeare:
- Not much is known about Shakespeare's life before 1592 because of the lack of records that have survived.
- He was his parents' third child, but the first to survive infancy.
- Shakespeare invented thousands of words such as courtship, leapfrog, schoolboy, stillborn, and zany.
- His plays have been translated into dozens of languages.
- Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play.
- A compilation of his plays, The First Folio, was published in 1623. An original copy was sold in 2006 for nearly $5 million.
- The moons of Uranus were named after the characters in Shakespeare's plays.
- There have been many variations in the spelling of Shakespeare's name. There are no records that show him spelling it the way we do today.
- Shakespeare has no descendants. He had a granddaughter who died childless.