William Shakespeare wrote two narrative poems, 38 plays and 154 sonnets during his lifetime and is often considered the greatest English-language dramatist, poet and writer. He was also an actor in both his own plays and those of others. He partially owned the Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company later called the "King's Men." "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet" are two of his best-known plays.
As of 2014, little is known of William Shakespeare's personal life. He was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, and he married Anne Hathaway in late 1582. At some point between 1585 and 1592, he began acting and writing professionally with much success. The Lord Chamberlain's Men formed in 1594, and Shakespeare had a stake, which eventually made him quite wealthy. Shakespeare was able to read the political and social atmospheres of his time well, often employing subtle and not-so-subtle tactics in his plays that pandered to theater attendees of every class, helping make his company one of the two premier acting groups in London.
His early comedy and history works, such as the popular "Titus Andronicus," seemed crude to some critics but rapidly built up his reputation. He quickly followed these with the much acclaimed "Romeo and Juliet." Shakespeare then turned to comedies of more romantic natures, including "A Midsummer Night's Dream." He began adding comedic prose to his histories beginning with "Henry IV, Part 1." The Lord Chamberlain's Men were often invited to play for Queen Elizabeth I and, after her death, King James I . Shakespeare's four great tragedies — "Hamlet," "Othello," "King Lear" and "Macbeth" — are often his most praised pieces of work. "Hamlet" is frequently described as the greatest tragedy ever told.Learn More
William Shakespeare was inspired to write "Romeo and Juliet" by a poem titled "Romeus and Juliet" by Arthur Brooks. In fact, Shakespeare's play shares many of the details of Brooks' poem. The story, however, was a commonly told one throughout Europe and was not unique to Brooks either.Full Answer >
The exact cause of William Shakespeare's death is not known, but many historians believe that he fell victim to an outbreak of typhus that took England by storm in 1616. That is the same year that Shakespeare died.Full Answer >
Shakespeare influenced the English language by devising new ways to use words, creating numerous words and phrases still used today and inspiring countless titles in popular media. Shakespeare is one of the most influential English-language writers, and he is estimated to have contributed over 1,700 words to the language.Full Answer >
The exact date of when William Shakespeare began to write is unknown, but the first publication and performance of his work is estimated to be between 1589 and 1594. There is not much information about Shakespeare's early years with the exception of his marriage and the birth of his children.Full Answer >