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Shakespeare Information

William Shakespeare is often considered the greatest play wright the English language has ever known. His writing is a glimpse into the human experience and our innermost faults. Shakespeare was born in 1564 during the reign of Elizabeth I. He was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in the market town of Stratford on Avon. There was a terrible outbreak of plague the year Shakespeare was born.

Shakespeare's father was a glover and leather maker. His mother, Mary, was a lively and intelligent woman who was an important influence on young William. Since Elizabethans took education very seriously, the school day was long and demanding. In school Shakespeare studied Latin. His first taste of theater was Traveling Players. Shakespeare did not attend college or university.

Only a mile away from where Shakespeare was growing up lived the woman who became his wife, Anne Hathaway. Anne was 8 years older than William and became pregnant with his child when he was only 18. Shakespeare had 3 children. Their names were Suzanna, Hamnet and Judeth.

By the time William was 28 he was making his mark in London as an actor and writer. One of his first plays Henry VI part 1 moved thousands of spectators in the theater. Shakespeare had the ability to write a vast range of material. Many say this is why he is considered so talented. In the 1590's Shakespeare wrote poems, sonnets and plays. Shakespeare dedicated two love poems to the Earl of Southampton. Some say they were lovers. It was the theater that called Shakespeare back again and again, demanding more and better scripts each time. The 20 years he was in London he wrote 37 plays. All brought large crowds to the theater.

In 1596 with the death of Shakespeare's 11 year old son, Hamnet, his family was stricken with grief. Hamnet was William's only son which means there was now no heir to Shakespeares wealth. In that same year Shakespeare's troop tore down their old theater and rebuilt it on the other side of the Thames River. The new theater was called "The Globe" and Shakespeare owned 10% of it. This share was valuable and made him his fortune. The first play perform in the new theater was Julius Caesar. By the 1600's Shakespeare had become an even better observer of life and was writing more profound and disturbing plays. An example of this is the tragedy of Hamlet.

From 1603 to 1607 Shakespeare wrote many of his best plays. These years were perhaps the greatest, though the last, of his play writing career. The last play that Shakespeare wrote alone was The Tempest. In 1613 "The Globe" was destroyed by fire during a performance. Unable to cope with the destruction of the theater Shakespeare retired. He died without seeing his plays officially published. His play were brought together in 1623 by his friend and former rival Ben Jonson.




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