From Leota's web site ... with thanks.
Born and died on the same date - 23rd April
England's greatest poet and playwright was born at
the son of a tradesman and
Alderman of Stratford, John Shakespeare in 1564.
William, the eldest son, and third child (of eight) was baptised on 26th April 1564 and probably educated at Stratford Grammar School, but little is known
of his life up to his eighteenth year. He did not go to University and his younger contemporary and fellow-dramatist, Ben Johnson, would later speak
disparagingly of his "small Latin, and less Greek" in the eulogy prefaced to the Firs Folio. However the Grammar School curriculum would have provided a formidable linguistic, and to some extent literary, education.
Although, in 1575 when he was eleven, there was a great plague in
country and Queen Elizabeth
journeyed out of London to avoid its consequences and
stayed for several days at Kenilworth Castle near Stratford enjoying "festivities" arranged by her host Lord Leicester. It is probable these events may have made
a strong impact on the mind of young William.
At the age of Eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his
Five years later he left for
London. William worked at the Globe Theatre and
appeared in many small parts. He first appeared in public as a poet in 1593 with his Venus and Adonis and the following year with The Rape of Lucrece. He became joint proprietor of The Globe and also had an interest in the Blackfriars Theatre.
The play writing commenced in 1595 and of the 38 plays that comprise
the Shakespeare Cannon, 36
were published in the 1st Folio of 1623, of which 18 had
been published in his lifetime in what are termed the Quarto publications.
Love's Labour's Lost and The Comedy of Errors appear to be among the
earliest, being followed by
The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet.
Then followed Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, All's Well that Ends Well, Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, As you like it, Twelth Night, Julius Caesar, Hamlet,
Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, King Lear, Timon of Athens, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, A Winter's Tale, The Tempest, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
When he retired from writing in 1611, he returned to Stratford to
in a house which he had built for
his family. His only son, Hamnet died when still a child.
He also lost a daughter Judith (twin to Hamnet), but his third child Susanna married a Stratford Doctor, John Hall and their home "Hall's Croft" is today preserved
as one of the Shakespeare Properties and administered by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
In 1616 Shakespeare was buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity the
same Church where he was
baptised in 1564. Tradition has it that he died after an
evening's drinking with some of his theatre friends. His gravestone bears the words:-
Jesus sake forebeare,
to digg the dust encloased heare,
Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
And curst be he yt moves my bones.
In his will Shakespeare left his wife, the former Anne Hathaway, his
second best bed. We cannot be
sure of the reason for this. It may have been the marital bed
the best bed being reserved for guests. It may suggest that they had a not altogether happy marriage which nevertheless produced three children, Susanna, born
on May 26th 1583 and twins , Hamnet and Judith, born on February 2nd 1585. These entries appear in the Holy Trinity Register.
There is no direct evidence of the marriage of William Shakespeare
Anne Hathaway although most
historians accept that an entry in the Bishop's Register at Worcester
in November 1582 regarding the
issue of a marriage licence to William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of
Temple Grafton does not refer
to the famous bard. However the following day a guarantee of £40
was undertaken in Stratford by
two yeomen of the town against the prevention of the legal marriage
William Shagspere and Anne Hathway on only one reading of the banns. In 1582 , £40 was a considerable sum of money and one cannot believe that the simple
fact of Anne's being three months pregnant would warrant it. No marriage of an Anne Whatelely has ever been traced, neither has the marriage of Anne Hathway, but lack of record does not mean that it did not happen.