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William Shakespeare (
bapt.
bapt.
26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's
national poet File:Adam Mickiewicz według dagerotypu paryskiego z 1842 roku.jpg, upAdam Mickiewicz A national poet or national bard is a poet held by tradition and popular acclaim to represent the identity, beliefs and principles of a ...
and the "
Bard In Celtic cultures, a bard was a professional Storytelling, story teller, verse-maker, music composer, Oral history, oral historian and genealogy, genealogist, employed by a patron (such as a monarch or noble) to commemorate one or more of the ...

Bard
of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including
collaborations Collaboration is the process of two or more people, entities or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership ...
, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long
narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbo ...
s, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been
translated Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction (which does not exist in every language) between ''transla ...
into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. They also continue to be studied and reinterpreted. Shakespeare was born and raised in
Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon (), commonly known as just Stratford, is a market town A market town is a European settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medie ...

Stratford-upon-Avon
,
Warwickshire Warwickshire (; abbreviated Warks) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers ( ...

Warwickshire
. At the age of 18, he married
Anne Hathaway Anne Jacqueline Hathaway (born November 12, 1982) is an American actress. She is the recipient of many awards, including an Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in ...
, with whom he had three children: Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a
playing company In English Renaissance theatre, Renaissance-era London, playing company was the usual term for a company of actors. These companies were organised around a group of ten or so shareholders (or "sharers"), who performed in the Play (theatre), plays ...
called the
Lord Chamberlain's Men The Lord Chamberlain's Men was a company of actors, or a " playing company" (as it then would likely have been described), for which Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwrig ...
, later known as the King's Men. At age 49 (around 1613), he appears to have retired to Stratford, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive; this has stimulated considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, his sexuality, his religious beliefs and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily
comedies Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television ...
and
histories Histories or, in Latin, Historiae may refer to: * the plural of history * Histories (Herodotus), ''Histories'' (Herodotus), by Herodotus * ''The Histories'', by Timaeus (historian), Timaeus * The Histories (Polybius), ''The Histories'' (Polybius), ...
and are regarded as some of the best work produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly
tragedies Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. T ...
until 1608, among them ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and acto ...

Hamlet
'', ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performanc ...

Romeo and Juliet
'', ''
Othello ''Othello'' (full title: ''The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice'') is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mod ...

Othello
'', ''
King Lear ''King Lear'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (t ...

King Lear
'', and ''
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606 in literature, 1606. It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological ...

Macbeth
'', all considered to be among the finest works in the English language. In the last phase of his life, he wrote tragicomedies (also known as romances) and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of Shakespeare's plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy in his lifetime. However, in 1623, two fellow actors and friends of Shakespeare's,
John Heminges John Heminges (bapt. 25 November 1566 – 10 October 1630) was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, ...
and
Henry Condell Henry Condell (5 September 1576 (baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with th ...

Henry Condell
, published a more definitive text known as the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
, a posthumous collected edition of Shakespeare's dramatic works that included all but two of his plays. Its Preface was a prescient poem by
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
that hailed Shakespeare with the now famous epithet: "not of an age, but for all time".


Life


Early life

Shakespeare was the son of
John Shakespeare John Shakespeare (c. 1531 – 7 September 1601) was an English businessman in Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon (), commonly known as just Stratford, is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district, in the count ...
, an
alderman An alderman is a member of a municipal A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level sub ...
and a successful glover (glove-maker) originally from
Snitterfield Snitterfield is a village and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon (district), Stratford on Avon district of Warwickshire, England, less than to the north of the A46 road, from Stratford upon Avon, from Warwick and ...
in
Warwickshire Warwickshire (; abbreviated Warks) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers ( ...

Warwickshire
, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning family. He was born in
Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon (), commonly known as just Stratford, is a market town A market town is a European settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medie ...

Stratford-upon-Avon
, where he was baptised on 26 April 1564. His date of birth is unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April,
Saint George's Day Saint George's Day, also called the Feast of Saint George, is the feast day The calendar of saints is the traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saint In religious belief, a s ...
. This date, which can be traced to
William Oldys William Oldys (14 July 1696 – 15 April 1761) was an English antiquarian 's cabinet of curiosities, from ''Museum Wormianum,'' 1655 An antiquarian or antiquary (from the Latin: ''antiquarius'', meaning pertaining to ancient times) is an fan ( ...
and
George Steevens George Steevens George Steevens (10 May 1736 – 22 January 1800) was an English Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the grea ...
, has proved appealing to biographers because Shakespeare died on the same date in 1616. He was the third of eight children, and the eldest surviving son. Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the King's New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553, about a quarter-mile (400 m) from his home.
Grammar school A grammar school is one of several different types of school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most coun ...
s varied in quality during the Elizabethan era, but grammar school curricula were largely similar: the basic
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
text was standardised by royal decree, and the school would have provided an intensive education in grammar based upon Latin
classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture derived from Greek and ...

classical
authors. At the age of 18, Shakespeare married 26-year-old
Anne Hathaway Anne Jacqueline Hathaway (born November 12, 1982) is an American actress. She is the recipient of many awards, including an Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in ...
. The
consistory court A consistory court is a type of ecclesiastical court An ecclesiastical court, also called court Christian or court spiritual, is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages these courts h ...
of the Diocese of Worcester issued a marriage licence on 27 November 1582. The next day, two of Hathaway's neighbours posted bonds guaranteeing that no lawful claims impeded the marriage. The ceremony may have been arranged in some haste since the Worcester
chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the ''cancellarii Cancelli are lattice-work, placed before a window, a door-way, the tribunal o ...

chancellor
allowed the marriage banns to be read once instead of the usual three times, and six months after the marriage Anne gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, baptised 26 May 1583. Twins, son Hamnet and daughter Judith, followed almost two years later and were baptised 2 February 1585. Hamnet died of unknown causes at the age of 11 and was buried 11 August 1596. After the birth of the twins, Shakespeare left few historical traces until he is mentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592. The exception is the appearance of his name in the "complaints bill" of a law case before the Queen's Bench court at Westminster dated
Michaelmas Term Michaelmas term is the first academic term of the academic year in a number of English-speaking universities and schools in the northern hemisphere, especially in the United Kingdom. Michaelmas term derives its name from the Feast of St Michael ...
1588 and 9 October 1589. Scholars refer to the years between 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare's "lost years". Biographers attempting to account for this period have reported many
apocryphal Apocrypha (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, ‘the hidden hings) The biblical Books received by the early Church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews from t ...
stories. Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare's first biographer, recounted a Stratford legend that Shakespeare fled the town for London to escape prosecution for deer
poaching Poaching has been defined as the illegal hunting Hunting is the practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife or feral animals. The most common reasons for humans to hunt are to harvest useful animal products (meat, fur/h ...
in the estate of local squire Thomas Lucy. Shakespeare is also supposed to have taken his revenge on Lucy by writing a scurrilous ballad about him. Another 18th-century story has Shakespeare starting his theatrical career minding the horses of theatre patrons in London.
John Aubrey John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697) was an English antiquarian, antiquary, Natural philosophy, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the ''Brief Lives'', his collection of short biographical pieces. ...

John Aubrey
reported that Shakespeare had been a country schoolmaster. Some 20th-century scholars suggested that Shakespeare may have been employed as a schoolmaster by Alexander Hoghton of
Lancashire Lancashire ( , ; abbreviated Lancs.) is a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial co ...

Lancashire
, a Catholic landowner who named a certain "William Shakeshafte" in his will. Little evidence substantiates such stories other than
hearsay Hearsay evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epi ...
collected after his death, and Shakeshafte was a common name in the Lancashire area.


London and theatrical career

It is not known definitively when Shakespeare began writing, but contemporary allusions and records of performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592. By then, he was sufficiently known in London to be attacked in print by the playwright Robert Greene in his '' Groats-Worth of Wit'':
... there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his ''Tiger's heart wrapped in a Player's hide'', supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute ''Johannes factotum'', is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.
Scholars differ on the exact meaning of Greene's words, but most agree that Greene was accusing Shakespeare of reaching above his rank in trying to match such university-educated writers as
Christopher Marlowe Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost ...

Christopher Marlowe
,
Thomas Nashe Thomas Nashe (baptised November 1567 – c. 1601; also Nash) was an Elizabethan playwright, poet, Satire, satirist and a significant pamphleteer. He is known for his novel ''The Unfortunate Traveller'', his pamphlets including ''Pierce Pennile ...
, and Greene himself (the so-called "
University Wits The University Wits is a phrase used to name a group of late 16th-century English playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays. Etymology The word "play" is from Middle English pleye, from Old English plæġ, pleġa, plæ ...
"). The italicised phrase parodying the line "Oh, tiger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide" from Shakespeare's ''
Henry VI, Part 3 ''Henry VI, Part 3'' (often written as ''3 Henry VI'') is a Shakespearean history, history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591 and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England. Whereas ''Henry VI, Part 1, 1 ...
'', along with the pun "Shake-scene", clearly identify Shakespeare as Greene's target. As used here, '' Johannes Factotum'' ("Jack of all trades") refers to a second-rate tinkerer with the work of others, rather than the more common "universal genius". Greene's attack is the earliest surviving mention of Shakespeare's work in the theatre. Biographers suggest that his career may have begun any time from the mid-1580s to just before Greene's remarks. After 1594, Shakespeare's plays were performed only by the
Lord Chamberlain's Men The Lord Chamberlain's Men was a company of actors, or a " playing company" (as it then would likely have been described), for which Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwrig ...
, a company owned by a group of players, including Shakespeare, that soon became the leading
playing company In English Renaissance theatre, Renaissance-era London, playing company was the usual term for a company of actors. These companies were organised around a group of ten or so shareholders (or "sharers"), who performed in the Play (theatre), plays ...
in London. After the death of
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
in 1603, the company was awarded a royal patent by the new
King James I James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of gover ...

King James I
, and changed its name to the King's Men. In 1599, a partnership of members of the company built their own theatre on the south bank of the
River Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the The Isis, River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At , it is the longest river entirely in England and the Longest rivers of the United Kingdom, se ...
, which they named the
Globe A globe is a spherical physical model, model of Earth, of some other astronomical object, celestial body, or of the celestial sphere. Globes serve purposes similar to maps, but unlike maps, they do not distort the surface that they portray except ...

Globe
. In 1608, the partnership also took over the Blackfriars indoor theatre. Extant records of Shakespeare's property purchases and investments indicate that his association with the company made him a wealthy man, and in 1597, he bought the second-largest house in Stratford,
New Place New Place () was William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's grea ...
, and in 1605, invested in a share of the parish
tithes A tithe (; from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early m ...
in Stratford. Some of Shakespeare's plays were published in
quarto Quarto (abbreviated Qto, 4to or 4º) is the format of a book or pamphlet produced from full sheets printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded twice to produce four leaves. The leaves are then trimmed along the folds to produc ...
editions, beginning in 1594, and by 1598, his name had become a selling point and began to appear on the
title page The title page of a book, thesis or other written work is the page at or near the front which displays its title (publishing), title, subtitle, author, publisher, and edition. (A half title, by contrast, displays only the title of a work.) In boo ...

title page
s. Shakespeare continued to act in his own and other plays after his success as a playwright. The 1616 edition of
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
's ''Works'' names him on the cast lists for ''
Every Man in His Humour 160px, Portrait of David Garrick as Kitely by Joshua Reynolds. ''Every Man in His Humour'' is a 1598 play by the English playwright Ben Jonson. The play belongs to the subgenre of the "humours comedy," in which each major character is dominat ...
'' (1598) and ''
Sejanus His Fall ''Sejanus His Fall'', a 1603 play by Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised t ...
'' (1603). The absence of his name from the 1605 cast list for Jonson's ''
Volpone ''Volpone'' (, Italian for "sly fox") is a comedy play by English playwright Ben Jonson first produced in 1605–1606, drawing on elements of city comedy and beast fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed ...
'' is taken by some scholars as a sign that his acting career was nearing its end. The
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
of 1623, however, lists Shakespeare as one of "the Principal Actors in all these Plays", some of which were first staged after ''Volpone'', although one cannot know for certain which roles he played. In 1610,
John Davies of Hereford John Davies of Hereford (c. 1565 – July 1618) was a writing-master and an Anglo-Welsh poet. He referred to himself as ''John Davies of Hereford'' (after the city where he was born) in order to distinguish him from others of the same name, pa ...
wrote that "good Will" played "kingly" roles. In 1709, Rowe passed down a tradition that Shakespeare played the ghost of Hamlet's father. Later traditions maintain that he also played Adam in ''
As You Like It ''As You Like It'' is a pastoral Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 and first published in the First Folio in 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton ...

As You Like It
'', and the Chorus in ''
Henry VHenry V may refer to: People * Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor (1081–1125) * Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1173–1227) * Henry V, Count of Luxembourg (1216–1281) * Henry V, Duke of Legnica (c.  1248 – 1296) * Henry V of Iron (c. 1319 ...
'', though scholars doubt the sources of that information. Throughout his career, Shakespeare divided his time between London and Stratford. In 1596, the year before he bought New Place as his family home in Stratford, Shakespeare was living in the parish of St. Helen's,
Bishopsgate Bishopsgate was one of the eastern gates in London Wall, London’s former defensive wall. The gate gave its name to the Bishopsgate Wards of the City of London, Ward of the City of London. The ward is traditionally divided into ''Bishopsgate Wi ...

Bishopsgate
, north of the River Thames. He moved across the river to
Southwark Southwark ( ) is a district of Central London situated on the south bank of the River Thames, forming the north-western part of the wider modern London Borough of Southwark. The district, which is the oldest part of South London, developed ...

Southwark
by 1599, the same year his company constructed the Globe Theatre there. By 1604, he had moved north of the river again, to an area north of
St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Jun ...

St Paul's Cathedral
with many fine houses. There, he rented rooms from a French
Huguenot The Huguenots ( , also , ) were a Religious denomination, religious group of French people, French Protestantism, Protestants who held to the Reformed, or Calvinist, tradition of Protestantism. The term, which may be derived from the name of a ...

Huguenot
named Christopher Mountjoy, a maker of women's wigs and other headgear.


Later years and death

Rowe A Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) is a human resource management strategy in which employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked. It was devised by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, who originally proposed the ...
was the first biographer to record the tradition, repeated by
Johnson Johnson is a surname of English name, English and Scottish name, Scottish origin.. The name itself is a patronym of the given name ''John (first name), John'', literally meaning "son of John". The name ''John'' derives from Latin ''Johannes'', whi ...
, that Shakespeare retired to Stratford "some years before his death". He was still working as an actor in London in 1608; in an answer to the sharers' petition in 1635,
Cuthbert Burbage Cuthbert Burbage (c. 15 June 1565 – 15 September 1636) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early m ...
stated that after purchasing the lease of the
Blackfriars Theatre Blackfriars Theatre was the name given to two separate theatres located in the former Blackfriars Dominican priory 300px, The Priory de Graville, France A priory is a monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising ...
in 1608 from Henry Evans, the King's Men "placed men players" there, "which were Heminges,
Condell
Condell
, Shakespeare, etc.". However, it is perhaps relevant that the
bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of biological cell The cell (from Latin ''cella'', meaning "small room") is the basic ...
raged in London throughout 1609. The London public playhouses were repeatedly closed during extended outbreaks of the plague (a total of over 60 months closure between May 1603 and February 1610), which meant there was often no acting work. Retirement from all work was uncommon at that time. Shakespeare continued to visit London during the years 1611–1614. In 1612, he was called as a witness in '' Bellott v Mountjoy'', a court case concerning the marriage settlement of Mountjoy's daughter, Mary. In March 1613, he bought a
gatehouse A gatehouse is a type of fortified gateway, an entry control point building, enclosing or accompanying a gateway for a town, religious house, castle, manor house, or other fortification building of importance. Gatehouses are typically the most ...

gatehouse
in the former Blackfriars priory; and from November 1614, he was in London for several weeks with his son-in-law,
John HallJohn Hall may refer to: Academics * John Hall (NYU President) (fl. c. 1890), American academic * John A. Hall (born 1949), sociology professor at McGill University, Montreal * John F. Hall (born 1951), professor of classics at Brigham Young Univers ...
. After 1610, Shakespeare wrote fewer plays, and none are attributed to him after 1613. His last three plays were collaborations, probably with John Fletcher, who succeeded him as the house playwright of the King's Men. He retired in 1613, before the
Globe Theatre The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Engl ...

Globe Theatre
burned down during the performance of ''
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
'' on 29 June. Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, at the age of 52. He died within a month of signing his will, a document which he begins by describing himself as being in "perfect health". No extant contemporary source explains how or why he died. Half a century later, John Ward, the vicar of Stratford, wrote in his notebook: "Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted", not an impossible scenario since Shakespeare knew Jonson and
DraytonDrayton may refer to: People * Drayton (surname) Legal cases * ''United States v. Drayton'', 536 U.S. 194 (2002) Places United Kingdom * Drayton, Hampshire, a close suburb of Portsmouth * Drayton, Leicestershire * Drayton, Norfolk, a satellite vil ...
. Of the tributes from fellow authors, one refers to his relatively sudden death: "We wondered, Shakespeare, that thou went'st so soon / From the world's stage to the grave's tiring room." He was survived by his wife and two daughters. Susanna had married a physician, John Hall, in 1607, and Judith had married
Thomas Quiney Thomas Quiney (baptism, baptised 26 February 1589 – c. 1662 or 1663) was the husband of William Shakespeare's daughter Judith Quiney, Judith Shakespeare, and a vintner and tobacconist in Stratford-upon-Avon. Quiney held several municipal office ...
, a
vintner A winemaker or vintner is a person engaged in winemaking. They are generally employed by winery, wineries or :Wine companies, wine companies, where their work includes: *Cooperating with viticulture, viticulturists *Monitoring the maturity of grapes ...
, two months before Shakespeare's death. Shakespeare signed his last will and testament on 25 March 1616; the following day, his new son-in-law, Thomas Quiney was found guilty of fathering an illegitimate son by Margaret Wheeler, who had died during childbirth. Thomas was ordered by the church court to do public penance, which would have caused much shame and embarrassment for the Shakespeare family. Shakespeare bequeathed the bulk of his large estate to his elder daughter Susanna under stipulations that she pass it down intact to "the first son of her body". The Quineys had three children, all of whom died without marrying. The Halls had one child, Elizabeth, who married twice but died without children in 1670, ending Shakespeare's direct line. Shakespeare's will scarcely mentions his wife, Anne, who was probably entitled to one-third of his estate automatically. He did make a point, however, of leaving her "my second best bed", a bequest that has led to much speculation. Some scholars see the bequest as an insult to Anne, whereas others believe that the second-best bed would have been the matrimonial bed and therefore rich in significance. Shakespeare was buried in the
chancel In church architecture Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectur ...

chancel
of the
Holy Trinity ChurchHoly Trinity Church may refer to: Albania *Holy Trinity Church (Berat), Berat County *Holy Trinity Church, Lavdar i Oparit, Korçë County Armenia *Holy Trinity Church, Yerevan Australia * Garrison Church, Sydney, Garrison Church, Millers Point, ...

Holy Trinity Church
two days after his death. The epitaph carved into the stone slab covering his grave includes a curse against moving his bones, which was carefully avoided during restoration of the church in 2008: ''Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,'' ''To digg the dvst encloased heare.'' ''Bleste be yͤ man yͭ spares thes stones,'' ''And cvrst be he yͭ moves my bones.'' (Modern spelling: ''Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, / To dig the dust enclosed here. / Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.'') Some time before 1623, a
funerary monument Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the death, dead. The term encompasses a wide variety of forms, including cenotaphs ("empty tombs"), tomb-like monuments which do not contain human remains, a ...
was erected in his memory on the north wall, with a half-effigy of him in the act of writing. Its plaque compares him to
Nestor Nestor may refer to: * Nestor (mythology), King of Pylos in Greek mythology Arts and entertainment * Nestor (Ulysses episode), "Nestor" (''Ulysses'' episode) an episode in James Joyce's novel ''Ulysses'' * Nestor Studios, first-ever motion pictur ...
,
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
, and
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
. In 1623, in conjunction with the publication of the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
, the Droeshout engraving was published. Shakespeare has been commemorated in many statues and memorials around the world, including funeral monuments in
Southwark Cathedral Southwark Cathedral ( ) or The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, Southwark Southwark ( ) is a district of Central London situated on the south bank of the River Thames, forming the north-western part of the ...

Southwark Cathedral
and
Poets' Corner Poets' Corner is the name traditionally given to a section of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey because of the high number of poets, playwrights, and writers buried and commemorated there. The first poet interred in Poets' Corner was Geoff ...
in
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes ...

Westminster Abbey
.


Plays

Most playwrights of the period typically collaborated with others at some point, and critics agree that Shakespeare did the same, mostly early and late in his career. The first recorded works of Shakespeare are ''
Richard III Richard III (2 October 145222 August 1485) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ita ...
'' and the three parts of ''
Henry VI Henry VI may refer to: * Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor (1165–1197) * Henry VI, Count Palatine of the Rhine (ruled 1212–1214) * Henry VI, Count of Luxembourg (crowned 1281, died 1288) * Henry VI the Older (before 1345 – 1393) * Henry VI, Count ...
'', written in the early 1590s during a vogue for
historical drama A historical drama (also period drama, costume drama, and period piece) is a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television. Historical drama includes historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction#REDIRECT his ...
. Shakespeare's plays are difficult to date precisely, however, and studies of the texts suggest that ''
Titus Andronicus ''Titus Andronicus'' is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen ...

Titus Andronicus
'', ''
The Comedy of Errors ''The Comedy of Errors'' is one of William Shakespeare's William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one ...
'', ''
The Taming of the Shrew ''The Taming of the Shrew'' is a Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592. The play begins with a Frame story, framing device, often referred to as the Induction (play), inducti ...
,'' and ''
The Two Gentlemen of Verona ''The Two Gentlemen of Verona'' is a Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1589 and 1593. It is considered by some to be Shakespeare's first play, and is often seen as showing his first tenta ...
'' may also belong to Shakespeare's earliest period. His first
histories Histories or, in Latin, Historiae may refer to: * the plural of history * Histories (Herodotus), ''Histories'' (Herodotus), by Herodotus * ''The Histories'', by Timaeus (historian), Timaeus * The Histories (Polybius), ''The Histories'' (Polybius), ...
, which draw heavily on the 1587 edition of Raphael Holinshed's ''Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland'', dramatise the destructive results of weak or corrupt rule and have been interpreted as a justification for the origins of the
Tudor dynasty The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July ...
. The early plays were influenced by the works of other Elizabethan dramatists, especially
Thomas Kyd Thomas Kyd (baptised 6 November 1558; buried 15 August 1594) was an English playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), ...
and
Christopher Marlowe Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost ...

Christopher Marlowe
, by the traditions of medieval drama, and by the plays of
Seneca Seneca may refer to: People and language *Seneca (name), a list of people with either the given name or surname *Seneca the Elder, a Roman rhetorician, writer and father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger *Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoi ...
. ''The Comedy of Errors'' was also based on classical models, but no source for ''The Taming of the Shrew'' has been found, though it is related to a separate play of the same name and may have derived from a folk story. Like ''The Two Gentlemen of Verona'', in which two friends appear to approve of rape, the ''Shrew''s story of the taming of a woman's independent spirit by a man sometimes troubles modern critics, directors, and audiences. Shakespeare's early classical and Italianate comedies, containing tight double plots and precise comic sequences, give way in the mid-1590s to the romantic atmosphere of his most acclaimed comedies. ''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the Eng ...

A Midsummer Night's Dream
'' is a witty mixture of romance, fairy magic, and comic lowlife scenes. Shakespeare's next comedy, the equally romantic ''
Merchant of Venice ''The Merchant of Venice'' is a 16th-century play written by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in Venice named Antonio defaults on a large loan provided by a Jewish moneylender, Shylock. It is believed to have been written between 1596 a ...
'', contains a portrayal of the vengeful Jewish moneylender
Shylock Shylock is a fictional character in William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the wor ...
, which reflects Elizabethan views but may appear derogatory to modern audiences. The wit and wordplay of ''
Much Ado About Nothing ''Much Ado About Nothing'' is a Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599.See textual notes to ''Much Ado About Nothing'' in ''The Norton Shakespeare'' (W. W. Norton & Company, 1997 ) p. ...
'', the charming rural setting of ''
As You Like It ''As You Like It'' is a pastoral Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 and first published in the First Folio in 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton ...

As You Like It
'', and the lively merrymaking of ''
Twelfth Night ''Twelfth Night'', or ''What You Will'' is a romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life Slice of life describes the depiction of mundane experiences in art and entertainm ...

Twelfth Night
'' complete Shakespeare's sequence of great comedies. After the lyrical ''
Richard II Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was List of deposed politicians, deposed in 1399. Richard's father, Edward the Black Prince, Edward, Prince of ...
'', written almost entirely in verse, Shakespeare introduced prose comedy into the histories of the late 1590s, '' Henry IV, parts 1'' and '' 2'', and ''
Henry VHenry V may refer to: People * Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor (1081–1125) * Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1173–1227) * Henry V, Count of Luxembourg (1216–1281) * Henry V, Duke of Legnica (c.  1248 – 1296) * Henry V of Iron (c. 1319 ...
''. His characters become more complex and tender as he switches deftly between comic and serious scenes, prose and poetry, and achieves the narrative variety of his mature work. This period begins and ends with two tragedies: ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performanc ...

Romeo and Juliet
'', the famous romantic tragedy of sexually charged adolescence, love, and death; and ''
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...
''—based on Sir
Thomas North Sir Thomas North (28 May 1535c. 1604) was an English translator, military officer, lawyer, and justice of the peace. His translation into English of Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after A ...

Thomas North
's 1579 translation of
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
's ''
Parallel Lives Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from a ...
''—which introduced a new kind of drama. According to Shakespearean scholar James Shapiro, in ''Julius Caesar,'' "the various strands of politics, character, inwardness, contemporary events, even Shakespeare's own reflections on the act of writing, began to infuse each other". In the early 17th century, Shakespeare wrote the so-called " problem plays" ''
Measure for Measure ''Measure for Measure'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of ...
'', ''
Troilus and Cressida ''Troilus and Cressida'' () is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and o ...
'', and ''
All's Well That Ends Well ''All's Well That Ends Well'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the wo ...

All's Well That Ends Well
'' and a number of his best known
tragedies Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. T ...
. Many critics believe that Shakespeare's greatest tragedies represent the peak of his art. The titular hero of one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and acto ...

Hamlet
'', has probably been discussed more than any other Shakespearean character, especially for his famous
soliloquy A soliloquy (, from Latin ''solo'' "to oneself" + ''loquor'' "I talk", plural ''soliloquies'') is a monologue addressed to oneself, thoughts spoken out loud without addressing another. Soliloquies are used as a device in drama Drama is the ...
which begins " To be or not to be; that is the question". Unlike the introverted Hamlet, whose fatal flaw is hesitation, the heroes of the tragedies that followed, Othello and King Lear, are undone by hasty errors of judgement. The plots of Shakespeare's tragedies often hinge on such fatal errors or flaws, which overturn order and destroy the hero and those he loves. In ''
Othello ''Othello'' (full title: ''The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice'') is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mod ...

Othello
'', the villain
Iago Iago () is a fictional character in Shakespeare's ''Othello'' (c. 1601–1604). Iago is the play's main antagonist, and othello (character), Othello's standard-bearer. He is the husband of Emilia (Othello), Emilia, who is in turn the attendant ...

Iago
stokes Othello's sexual jealousy to the point where he murders the innocent wife who loves him. In ''
King Lear ''King Lear'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (t ...

King Lear
'', the old king commits the tragic error of giving up his powers, initiating the events which lead to the torture and blinding of the Earl of Gloucester and the murder of Lear's youngest daughter Cordelia. According to the critic Frank Kermode, "the play...offers neither its good characters nor its audience any relief from its cruelty". In ''
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606 in literature, 1606. It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological ...

Macbeth
'', the shortest and most compressed of Shakespeare's tragedies, uncontrollable ambition incites Macbeth and his wife,
Lady Macbeth Lady Macbeth is a leading character in William Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's tragedy ''Macbeth'' (c.1603–1607). As the wife of the play's tragic hero, Macbeth (character), Macbeth (a Scottish people, Scottish nobleman), Lady Macbeth goa ...

Lady Macbeth
, to murder the rightful king and usurp the throne until their own guilt destroys them in turn. In this play, Shakespeare adds a supernatural element to the tragic structure. His last major tragedies, ''
Antony and Cleopatra ''Antony and Cleopatra'' (First Folio title: ''The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra'') is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare. The play was first performed, by the King's Men (playing company), King's Men, at either the ...

Antony and Cleopatra
'' and ''
Coriolanus ''Coriolanus'' ( or ) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman Republic, Roman leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Sh ...

Coriolanus
'', contain some of Shakespeare's finest poetry and were considered his most successful tragedies by the poet and critic
T. S. Eliot Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 18884 January 1965) was a poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform the ...
. In his final period, Shakespeare turned to
romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...
or
tragicomedy Tragicomedy is a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length. They generally mo ...
and completed three more major plays: ''
Cymbeline ''Cymbeline'' , also known as ''The Tragedie of Cymbeline'' or ''Cymbeline, King of Britain'', is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, w ...
'', ''
The Winter's Tale ''The Winter's Tale'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world ...
,'' and ''
The Tempest ''The Tempest'' is a Shakespeare's plays, play by English playwright William Shakespeare, probably written in 1610–1611, and thought to be one of the last plays that Shakespeare wrote alone. After the first scene, which takes place on a ship ...
'', as well as the collaboration, ''
Pericles, Prince of Tyre ''Pericles, Prince of Tyre'' is a Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest ...
''. Less bleak than the tragedies, these four plays are graver in tone than the comedies of the 1590s, but they end with reconciliation and the forgiveness of potentially tragic errors. Some commentators have seen this change in mood as evidence of a more serene view of life on Shakespeare's part, but it may merely reflect the theatrical fashion of the day. Shakespeare collaborated on two further surviving plays, ''
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
'' and ''
The Two Noble Kinsmen ''The Two Noble Kinsmen'' is a Jacobean tragicomedy Tragicomedy is a literary genre that blends aspects of both tragedy, tragic and comedy, comic forms. Most often seen in drama, dramatic literature, the term can describe either a tragic pla ...
'', probably with John Fletcher.


Performances

It is not clear for which companies Shakespeare wrote his early plays. The title page of the 1594 edition of ''Titus Andronicus'' reveals that the play had been acted by three different troupes. After the Black Death in England, plagues of 1592–93, Shakespeare's plays were performed by his own company at The Theatre and the Curtain Theatre, Curtain in Shoreditch, north of the Thames. Londoners flocked there to see the first part of ''Henry IV'', Leonard Digges (writer), Leonard Digges recording, "Let but Falstaff come, Hal, Poins, the rest ... and you scarce shall have a room". When the company found themselves in dispute with their landlord, they pulled The Theatre down and used the timbers to construct the
Globe Theatre The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Engl ...

Globe Theatre
, the first playhouse built by actors for actors, on the south bank of the Thames at
Southwark Southwark ( ) is a district of Central London situated on the south bank of the River Thames, forming the north-western part of the wider modern London Borough of Southwark. The district, which is the oldest part of South London, developed ...

Southwark
. The Globe opened in autumn 1599, with ''Julius Caesar'' one of the first plays staged. Most of Shakespeare's greatest post-1599 plays were written for the Globe, including ''Hamlet'', ''Othello,'' and ''King Lear''. After the Lord Chamberlain's Men were renamed the King's Men in 1603, they entered a special relationship with the new James VI and I, King James. Although the performance records are patchy, the King's Men performed seven of Shakespeare's plays at court between 1 November 1604, and 31 October 1605, including two performances of ''The Merchant of Venice''. After 1608, they performed at the indoor
Blackfriars Theatre Blackfriars Theatre was the name given to two separate theatres located in the former Blackfriars Dominican priory 300px, The Priory de Graville, France A priory is a monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising ...
during the winter and the Globe during the summer. The indoor setting, combined with the Jacobean era, Jacobean fashion for lavishly staged masques, allowed Shakespeare to introduce more elaborate stage devices. In ''Cymbeline'', for example, Jupiter (mythology), Jupiter descends "in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle: he throws a thunderbolt. The ghosts fall on their knees." The actors in Shakespeare's company included the famous Richard Burbage, William Kempe,
Henry Condell Henry Condell (5 September 1576 (baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with th ...

Henry Condell
and
John Heminges John Heminges (bapt. 25 November 1566 – 10 October 1630) was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, ...
. Burbage played the leading role in the first performances of many of Shakespeare's plays, including ''Richard III'', ''Hamlet'', ''Othello'', and ''King Lear''. The popular comic actor Will Kempe played the servant Peter in ''Romeo and Juliet'' and Dogberry in ''Much Ado About Nothing'', among other characters. He was replaced around 1600 by Robert Armin, who played roles such as Touchstone (As You Like It), Touchstone in ''As You Like It'' and the fool in ''King Lear''. In 1613, Sir Henry Wotton recorded that ''Henry VIII'' "was set forth with many extraordinary circumstances of pomp and ceremony". On 29 June, however, a cannon set fire to the thatch of the Globe and burned the theatre to the ground, an event which pinpoints the date of a Shakespeare play with rare precision.


Textual sources

In 1623,
John Heminges John Heminges (bapt. 25 November 1566 – 10 October 1630) was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, ...
and
Henry Condell Henry Condell (5 September 1576 (baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with th ...

Henry Condell
, two of Shakespeare's friends from the King's Men, published the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
, a collected edition of Shakespeare's plays. It contained 36 texts, including 18 printed for the first time. Many of the plays had already appeared in Book size, quarto versions—flimsy books made from sheets of paper folded twice to make four leaves. No evidence suggests that Shakespeare approved these editions, which the First Folio describes as "stol'n and surreptitious copies". Nor did Shakespeare plan or expect his works to survive in any form at all; those works likely would have faded into oblivion but for his friends' spontaneous idea, after his death, to create and publish the First Folio. Alfred W. Pollard, Alfred Pollard termed some of the pre-1623 versions as "bad quartos" because of their adapted, paraphrased or garbled texts, which may in places have been reconstructed from memory. Where several versions of a play survive, each Shakespeare's plays#Shakespeare and the textual problem, differs from the other. The differences may stem from copying or Typesetting#Letterpress era, printing errors, from notes by actors or audience members, or from Shakespeare's own foul papers, papers. In some cases, for example, ''Hamlet'', ''Troilus and Cressida,'' and ''Othello'', Shakespeare could have revised the texts between the quarto and folio editions. In the case of ''
King Lear ''King Lear'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (t ...

King Lear
'', however, while most modern editions do conflate them, the 1623 folio version is so different from the 1608 quarto that the ''Oxford Shakespeare'' prints them both, arguing that they cannot be conflated without confusion.


Poems

In 1593 and 1594, when the theatres were closed because of Bubonic plague, plague, Shakespeare published two narrative poems on sexual themes, ''Venus and Adonis (Shakespeare poem), Venus and Adonis'' and ''The Rape of Lucrece''. He dedicated them to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. In ''Venus and Adonis'', an innocent Adonis rejects the sexual advances of Venus (mythology), Venus; while in ''The Rape of Lucrece'', the virtuous wife Lucretia, Lucrece is raped by the lustful Sextus Tarquinius, Tarquin. Influenced by Ovid's ''Metamorphoses'', the poems show the guilt and moral confusion that result from uncontrolled lust. Both proved popular and were often reprinted during Shakespeare's lifetime. A third narrative poem, ''A Lover's Complaint'', in which a young woman laments her seduction by a persuasive suitor, was printed in the first edition of the ''Sonnets'' in 1609. Most scholars now accept that Shakespeare wrote ''A Lover's Complaint''. Critics consider that its fine qualities are marred by leaden effects. ''The Phoenix and the Turtle'', printed in Robert Chester's 1601 ''Love's Martyr'', mourns the deaths of the legendary phoenix (mythology), phoenix and his lover, the faithful European turtle dove, turtle dove. In 1599, two early drafts of sonnets 138 and 144 appeared in ''The Passionate Pilgrim'', published under Shakespeare's name but without his permission.


Sonnets

Published in 1609, the ''Shakespeare's sonnets, Sonnets'' were the last of Shakespeare's non-dramatic works to be printed. Scholars are not certain when each of the 154 sonnets was composed, but evidence suggests that Shakespeare wrote sonnets throughout his career for a private readership. Even before the two unauthorised sonnets appeared in ''The Passionate Pilgrim'' in 1599, Francis Meres had referred in 1598 to Shakespeare's "sugred Sonnets among his private friends". Few analysts believe that the published collection follows Shakespeare's intended sequence. He seems to have planned two contrasting series: one about uncontrollable lust for a married woman of dark complexion (the "dark lady"), and one about conflicted love for a fair young man (the "fair youth"). It remains unclear if these figures represent real individuals, or if the authorial "I" who addresses them represents Shakespeare himself, though Wordsworth believed that with the sonnets "Shakespeare unlocked his heart". The 1609 edition was dedicated to a "Mr. W.H.", credited as "the only begetter" of the poems. It is not known whether this was written by Shakespeare himself or by the publisher, Thomas Thorpe, whose initials appear at the foot of the dedication page; nor is it known who Mr. W.H. was, despite numerous theories, or whether Shakespeare even authorised the publication. Critics praise the ''Sonnets'' as a profound meditation on the nature of love, sexual passion, procreation, death, and time.


Style

Shakespeare's first plays were written in the conventional style of the day. He wrote them in a stylised language that does not always spring naturally from the needs of the characters or the drama. The poetry depends on extended, sometimes elaborate metaphors and conceits, and the language is often rhetorical—written for actors to declaim rather than speak. The grand speeches in ''
Titus Andronicus ''Titus Andronicus'' is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen ...

Titus Andronicus
'', in the view of some critics, often hold up the action, for example; and the verse in ''
The Two Gentlemen of Verona ''The Two Gentlemen of Verona'' is a Shakespearean comedy, comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1589 and 1593. It is considered by some to be Shakespeare's first play, and is often seen as showing his first tenta ...
'' has been described as stilted. However, Shakespeare soon began to adapt the traditional styles to his own purposes. The opening
soliloquy A soliloquy (, from Latin ''solo'' "to oneself" + ''loquor'' "I talk", plural ''soliloquies'') is a monologue addressed to oneself, thoughts spoken out loud without addressing another. Soliloquies are used as a device in drama Drama is the ...
of ''
Richard III Richard III (2 October 145222 August 1485) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ita ...
'' has its roots in the self-declaration of the Vice, Vice in medieval drama. At the same time, Richard's vivid self-awareness looks forward to the soliloquies of Shakespeare's mature plays. No single play marks a change from the traditional to the freer style. Shakespeare combined the two throughout his career, with ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performanc ...

Romeo and Juliet
'' perhaps the best example of the mixing of the styles. By the time of ''Romeo and Juliet'', ''
Richard II Richard II (6 January 1367 – c. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was List of deposed politicians, deposed in 1399. Richard's father, Edward the Black Prince, Edward, Prince of ...
'', and ''
A Midsummer Night's Dream ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' is a comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the Eng ...

A Midsummer Night's Dream
'' in the mid-1590s, Shakespeare had begun to write a more natural poetry. He increasingly tuned his metaphors and images to the needs of the drama itself. Shakespeare's standard poetic form was blank verse, composed in iambic pentameter. In practice, this meant that his verse was usually unrhymed and consisted of ten syllables to a line, spoken with a stress on every second syllable. The blank verse of his early plays is quite different from that of his later ones. It is often beautiful, but its sentences tend to start, pause, and finish at the End-stopping, end of lines, with the risk of monotony. Once Shakespeare mastered traditional blank verse, he began to interrupt and vary its flow. This technique releases the new power and flexibility of the poetry in plays such as ''
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...
'' and ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and acto ...

Hamlet
''. Shakespeare uses it, for example, to convey the turmoil in Hamlet's mind: After ''Hamlet'', Shakespeare varied his poetic style further, particularly in the more emotional passages of the late tragedies. The literary critic A. C. Bradley described this style as "more concentrated, rapid, varied, and, in construction, less regular, not seldom twisted or elliptical". In the last phase of his career, Shakespeare adopted many techniques to achieve these effects. These included enjambment, run-on lines, irregular pauses and stops, and extreme variations in sentence structure and length. In ''
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606 in literature, 1606. It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological ...

Macbeth
'', for example, the language darts from one unrelated metaphor or simile to another: "was the hope drunk/ Wherein you dressed yourself?" (1.7.35–38); "... pity, like a naked new-born babe/ Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, hors'd/ Upon the sightless couriers of the air ..." (1.7.21–25). The listener is challenged to complete the sense. The late romances, with their shifts in time and surprising turns of plot, inspired a last poetic style in which long and short sentences are set against one another, clauses are piled up, subject and object are reversed, and words are omitted, creating an effect of spontaneity. Shakespeare combined poetic genius with a practical sense of the theatre. Like all playwrights of the time, he dramatised stories from sources such as
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
and Raphael Holinshed, Holinshed. He reshaped each plot to create several centres of interest and to show as many sides of a narrative to the audience as possible. This strength of design ensures that a Shakespeare play can survive translation, cutting, and wide interpretation without loss to its core drama. As Shakespeare's mastery grew, he gave his characters clearer and more varied motivations and distinctive patterns of speech. He preserved aspects of his earlier style in the later plays, however. In Shakespeare's late romances, he deliberately returned to a more artificial style, which emphasised the illusion of theatre.


Influence

Shakespeare's work has made a lasting impression on later theatre and literature. In particular, he expanded the dramatic potential of characterisation, plot, language, and genre. Until ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performanc ...

Romeo and Juliet
'', for example, romance had not been viewed as a worthy topic for tragedy. Soliloquy, Soliloquies had been used mainly to convey information about characters or events, but Shakespeare used them to explore characters' minds. His work heavily influenced later poetry. The Romanticism, Romantic poets attempted to revive Shakespearean verse drama, though with little success. Critic George Steiner described all English verse dramas from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Coleridge to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Tennyson as "feeble variations on Shakespearean themes." Shakespeare influenced novelists such as Thomas Hardy (writer), Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner, and Charles Dickens. The American novelist Herman Melville's soliloquies owe much to Shakespeare; his Captain Ahab in ''Moby-Dick'' is a classic tragic hero, inspired by ''King Lear''. Scholars have identified 20,000 pieces of music linked to Shakespeare's works. These include three operas by Giuseppe Verdi, ''Macbeth (opera), Macbeth'', ''Otello'' and ''Falstaff (opera), Falstaff'', whose critical standing compares with that of the source plays. Shakespeare has also inspired many painters, including the Romantics and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Pre-Raphaelites. The Swiss Romantic artist Henry Fuseli, a friend of William Blake, even translated ''Macbeth'' into German. The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud drew on Shakespearean psychology, in particular, that of Hamlet, for his theories of human nature. In Shakespeare's day, English grammar, spelling, and pronunciation were less standardised than they are now, and his use of language helped shape modern English. Samuel Johnson quoted him more often than any other author in his ''A Dictionary of the English Language'', the first serious work of its type. Expressions such as "with bated breath" (''Merchant of Venice'') and "a foregone conclusion" (''Othello'') have found their way into everyday English speech. Shakespeare's influence extends far beyond his native England and the English language. His reception in Germany was particularly significant; as early as the 18th century Shakespeare was widely translated and popularised in Germany, and gradually became a "classic of the Weimar Classicism, German Weimar era;" Christoph Martin Wieland was the first to produce complete translations of Shakespeare's plays in any language. Actor and theatre director Simon Callow writes, "this master, this titan, this genius, so profoundly British and so effortlessly universal, each different culture – German, Italian, Russian – was obliged to respond to the Shakespearean example; for the most part, they embraced it, and him, with joyous abandon, as the possibilities of language and character in action that he celebrated liberated writers across the continent. Some of the most deeply affecting productions of Shakespeare have been non-English, and non-European. He is that unique writer: he has something for everyone." According to ''Guinness World Records'', Shakespeare remains the world's best-selling playwright, with sales of his plays and poetry believed to have achieved in excess of four billion copies in the almost 400 years since his death. He is also the third List of most translated individual authors, most translated author in history.


Critical reputation

Shakespeare was not revered in his lifetime, but he received a large amount of praise. In 1598, the cleric and author Francis Meres singled him out from a group of English playwrights as "the most excellent" in both comedy and tragedy. The authors of Parnassus plays, the ''Parnassus'' plays at St John's College, Cambridge, numbered him with Geoffrey Chaucer, Chaucer, John Gower, Gower, and Edmund Spenser, Spenser. In the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
,
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
called Shakespeare the "Soul of the age, the applause, delight, the wonder of our stage", although he had remarked elsewhere that "Shakespeare wanted art" (lacked skill). Between Stuart Restoration, the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the end of the 17th century, classical ideas were in vogue. As a result, critics of the time mostly rated Shakespeare below John Fletcher and Ben Jonson. Thomas Rymer, for example, condemned Shakespeare for mixing the comic with the tragic. Nevertheless, poet and critic John Dryden rated Shakespeare highly, saying of Jonson, "I admire him, but I love Shakespeare". For several decades, Rymer's view held sway; but during the 18th century, critics began to respond to Shakespeare on his own terms and acclaim what they termed his natural genius. A series of scholarly editions of his work, notably those of Samuel Johnson in 1765 and Edmond Malone in 1790, added to his growing reputation. By 1800, he was firmly enshrined as the national poet. In the 18th and 19th centuries, his reputation also spread abroad. Among those who championed him were the writers Voltaire, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe, Stendhal, and Victor Hugo. During the Romanticism, Romantic era, Shakespeare was praised by the poet and literary philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the critic August Wilhelm Schlegel translated his plays in the spirit of German Romanticism. In the 19th century, critical admiration for Shakespeare's genius often bordered on adulation. "This King Shakespeare," the essayist Thomas Carlyle wrote in 1840, "does not he shine, in crowned sovereignty, over us all, as the noblest, gentlest, yet strongest of rallying signs; indestructible". The Victorian era, Victorians produced his plays as lavish spectacles on a grand scale. The playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw mocked the cult of Shakespeare worship as "bardolatry", claiming that the new Naturalism (theatre), naturalism of Henrik Ibsen, Ibsen's plays had made Shakespeare obsolete. The modernist revolution in the arts during the early 20th century, far from discarding Shakespeare, eagerly enlisted his work in the service of the avant-garde. The German expressionism, Expressionists in Germany and the Futurism, Futurists in Moscow mounted productions of his plays. Marxist playwright and director Bertolt Brecht devised an epic theatre under the influence of Shakespeare. The poet and critic T.S. Eliot argued against Shaw that Shakespeare's "primitiveness" in fact made him truly modern. Eliot, along with G. Wilson Knight and the school of New Criticism, led a movement towards a closer reading of Shakespeare's imagery. In the 1950s, a wave of new critical approaches replaced modernism and paved the way for "postmodernism, post-modern" studies of Shakespeare. By the 1980s, Shakespeare studies were open to movements such as structuralism, feminism, New Historicism, African-American studies, and queer studies. Comparing Shakespeare's accomplishments to those of leading figures in philosophy and theology, Harold Bloom wrote: "Shakespeare was larger than Plato and than St. Augustine. He ''encloses'' us because we ''see'' with his fundamental perceptions."


Works


Classification of the plays

Shakespeare's works include the 36 plays printed in the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
of 1623, listed according to their folio classification as
comedies Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television ...
,
histories Histories or, in Latin, Historiae may refer to: * the plural of history * Histories (Herodotus), ''Histories'' (Herodotus), by Herodotus * ''The Histories'', by Timaeus (historian), Timaeus * The Histories (Polybius), ''The Histories'' (Polybius), ...
, and
tragedies Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. T ...
. Two plays not included in the First Folio, ''
The Two Noble Kinsmen ''The Two Noble Kinsmen'' is a Jacobean tragicomedy Tragicomedy is a literary genre that blends aspects of both tragedy, tragic and comedy, comic forms. Most often seen in drama, dramatic literature, the term can describe either a tragic pla ...
'' and ''
Pericles, Prince of Tyre ''Pericles, Prince of Tyre'' is a Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest ...
'', are now accepted as part of the canon, with today's scholars agreeing that Shakespeare made major contributions to the writing of both. No Shakespearean poems were included in the First Folio. In the late 19th century, Edward Dowden classified four of the late comedies as romances, and though many scholars prefer to call them ''Tragicomedy, tragicomedies'', Dowden's term is often used. In 1896, Frederick S. Boas coined the term " problem plays" to describe four plays: ''
All's Well That Ends Well ''All's Well That Ends Well'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the wo ...

All's Well That Ends Well
'', ''
Measure for Measure ''Measure for Measure'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of ...
'', ''
Troilus and Cressida ''Troilus and Cressida'' () is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and o ...
,'' and ''
Hamlet ''The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'', often shortened to ''Hamlet'' (), is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (baptism, bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and acto ...

Hamlet
''. "Dramas as singular in theme and temper cannot be strictly called comedies or tragedies", he wrote. "We may, therefore, borrow a convenient phrase from the theatre of today and class them together as Shakespeare's problem plays." The term, much debated and sometimes applied to other plays, remains in use, though ''Hamlet'' is definitively classed as a tragedy.


Speculation about Shakespeare


Authorship

Around 230 years after Shakespeare's death, doubts began to be expressed about the authorship of the works attributed to him. Proposed alternative candidates include Francis Bacon,
Christopher Marlowe Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (; baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost ...

Christopher Marlowe
, and Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Several "group theories" have also been proposed. Only a small minority of academics believe there is reason to question the traditional attribution, but interest in the subject, particularly the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, continues into the 21st century.


Religion

Shakespeare conformed to the official state religion, but his private views on religion have been the subject of debate. Shakespeare's will uses a Protestant formula, and he was a confirmed member of the Church of England, where he was married, his children were baptised, and where he is buried. Some scholars claim that members of Shakespeare's family were Catholics, at a time when practising Catholicism in England was against the law. Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, certainly came from a pious Catholic family. The strongest evidence might be a Catholic statement of faith signed by his father,
John Shakespeare John Shakespeare (c. 1531 – 7 September 1601) was an English businessman in Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon (), commonly known as just Stratford, is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district, in the count ...
, found in 1757 in the rafters of his former house in Henley Street. However, the document is now lost and scholars differ as to its authenticity. In 1591, the authorities reported that John Shakespeare had missed church "for fear of process for debt", a common Catholic excuse. In 1606, the name of William's daughter Susanna appears on a list of those who failed to attend Easter Eucharist, communion in Stratford. Other authors argue that there is a lack of evidence about Shakespeare's religious beliefs. Scholars find evidence both for and against Shakespeare's Catholicism, Protestantism, or lack of belief in his plays, but the truth may be impossible to prove.


Sexuality

Few details of Shakespeare's sexuality are known. At 18, he married 26-year-old
Anne Hathaway Anne Jacqueline Hathaway (born November 12, 1982) is an American actress. She is the recipient of many awards, including an Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in ...
, who was pregnant. Susanna, the first of their three children, was born six months later on 26 May 1583. Over the centuries, some readers have posited that Shakespeare's sonnets are autobiographical, and point to them as evidence of his love for a young man. Others read the same passages as the expression of intense friendship rather than romantic love. The 26 so-called Dark Lady (Shakespeare), "Dark Lady" sonnets, addressed to a married woman, are taken as evidence of heterosexual liaisons.


Portraiture

No written contemporary description of Shakespeare's physical appearance survives, and no evidence suggests that he ever commissioned a portrait, so the Droeshout engraving, which
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
approved of as a good likeness, and his Shakespeare's funerary monument, Stratford monument provide perhaps the best evidence of his appearance. From the 18th century, the desire for authentic Shakespeare portraits fuelled claims that various surviving pictures depicted Shakespeare. That demand also led to the production of several fake portraits, as well as misattributions, repaintings, and relabelling of portraits of other people.


See also

* Outline of William Shakespeare * English Renaissance theatre * Spelling of Shakespeare's name * ''World Shakespeare Bibliography''


Notes and references


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** ** ** * * * * * *


External links

;Digital editions *
Internet Shakespeare Editions

Folger Digital Texts

Open Source Shakespeare
complete works, with search engine and concordance
First Four Folios
at Miami University Library, digital collection
The Shakespeare Quartos Archive

Shakespeare's sonnets, poems, and texts
at Poets.org * * * ;Exhibitions
Shakespeare Documented
an online exhibition documenting Shakespeare in his own time
Shakespeare's Will
from The National Archives (United Kingdom), The National Archives
''Discovering Literature: Shakespeare''
at the British Library


William Shakespeare
at the British Library * ;Legacy and criticism
"Shakespeare and Literary Criticism"
BBC Radio 4 discussion with Harold Bloom and Jacqueline Rose (''In Our Time'', 4 March 1999).
"Shakespeare's Work"
BBC Radio 4 discussion with Frank Kermode, Michael Bagdanov and Germaine Greer (''In Our Time'', 11 May 2000).
"Shakespeare's Life"
BBC Radio 4 discussion with Katherine Duncan-Jones, John Sutherland and Grace Ioppolo (''In Our Time'', 15 March 2001).
Records on Shakespeare's Theatre Legacy from the UK Parliamentary Collections

Winston Churchill & Shakespeare - UK Parliament Living Heritage
;Other links
Excavation finds early Shakespeare theatre

Shakespeare's Words
the online version of the best selling glossary and language companion

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Shakespeare, William William Shakespeare, 1564 births 1616 deaths 16th-century English male actors English male stage actors 16th-century English dramatists and playwrights 17th-century English dramatists and playwrights 16th-century English poets Burials in Warwickshire 17th-century English poets 17th-century English male writers English Renaissance dramatists People educated at King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon People from Stratford-upon-Avon People of the Elizabethan era Shakespeare family, William Sonneteers King's Men (playing company) 17th-century English male actors English male dramatists and playwrights English male poets