William Shakespeare wrote 13 comedies, 13 historical plays, 6 tragedies, 4 tragicomedies, 154 sonnets as well as three long poems, Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, and A Lover's Complaint, before he died on his birthday in 1616 at the age of 52.

    Considered perhaps the best dramatist ever to live he is still also considered one of the best poets ever to write in the English language.

    William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564 to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden in Stratford-upon-Avon who by today's standards would be considered middle-class. John Shakespeare was an alderman and was later elected mayor of Stratford which was the highest post a man in civic politics could attain.

    William Shakespeare was the third out of eight children born to the Shakespeares. Little is known about Shakespeare's childhood other than he went to the Stratford Grammar School and never proceeded on to Oxford or Cambridge.

    In 1582, at the age of 18, William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway who was 26. The next year Susanna Shakespeare was born and two years later followed twins, Judith and Hamnet.

    Between the years of 1585 and 1592 are known as the lost years. These are the years where there is little evidence of what William Shakespeare was doing or where he was living. It is believed that it is during this period Shakespeare moved to London and served an apprenticeship in one of the theatres there.

    It is unknown which theatres Shakespeare wrote and acted for before 1594. There is evidence though that in 1594 Shakespeare became a stockholder in a company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men which for its time was one of the most popular acting companies in London.

    It is also known that by 1594, Shakespeare had written at least six plays that had already been produced.

    In addition to being a stockholder and acting for The Lord Chamberlain's Men he also wrote about two plays a year for them.

    With his band of actors and the theatre prosperity abounded and in 1597 Shakespeare bought New Place, the second largest house in all of Stratford.

    In 1599, Shakespeare and six other men bought a new outdoor theatre in London called The Globe, which was one of the biggest theatres in England.

    James I, King of England took the throne in 1603 when his cousin Queen Elizabeth I, died.

    King James supported Shakespeare and his men and gave them license to call themselves the King's Men in return for entertaining the court regularly.

    The King's Men became the leading theatrical group for their time.

    This was also during the time when Shakespeare was writing his most famous plays such as his tragedies Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello.

    Only four plays were produced in Shakespeare's last eight years. His last play, Henry VIII is dated 1613.

    In 1616 Shakespeare's youngest daughter married Thomas Quiney, two months later Shakespeare died and was buried inside the Stratford parish church.

    Shakespeare's last direct descendant died in 1670. It was his granddaughter Elizabeth who never had any children.


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