About Shakespeare

About William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, famous playwright and poet born in Stratford upon Avon

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

While Stratford-upon-Avon is an open and welcoming town, synonymous with the greatest playwright of all time, Shakespeare himself remains, in many ways, intriguingly enigmatic.

The greater part of his life was spent plying his trade as an actor, writer and poet in London, but it was from Stratford that he embarked on his extraordinary career, and it was to the town that he returned in his dotage.

While the town holds the key to much of the information we know about The Bard’s early and later life and, indeed, is happy to both propagate and exploit the legend to equal degrees, many of the facts in the public domain are open to debate. Expert Shakespearians worldwide (who regularly meet in the town) each have their own particular view of The Bard’s life and times, but much of the following is well documented.

The first boy of seven children, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptized on April 26th 1564, His father, John was a glovemaker and wool merchant who held several important offices in the town, while his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a local landowner. We know little about young Will’s early life, although he attended Stratford Grammar School, before he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a local farmer, in 1582. In the following year, the couple had a daughter (Susanna) and twins (Judith and Hamnet) arrived soon afterwards.

Records then show that, circa 1592, Shakespeare decamped to London to work in the theatre,. His acting career was spent with the Lord Chamberlain’s Company (later renamed the King’s Men after James I came to the throne) and Shakespeare secured himself a patron in the form of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. While two of his poems appeared in 1593 and 1594, it is thought that it was around this time that he was writing most of his sonnets. His plays began to appear in 1594, the earliest of which were Henry VI, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II. Shakespeare produced, on average, two plays per year and some of his most acclaimed tragedies, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth appeared first in the early 1600s. The later ‘romances’ date from 1608 onwards.

In 1611 Shakespeare returned to his beloved Stratford, a wealthy man who sought the bosom of his family. He died in the town on April 23rd, 1616-his 52 birthday- and is buried in the town’s Holy Trinity Church.