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Shakespeare Biography

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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: A BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY William Shakespeare, surely the world's most performed and admired playwright, was born in April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, about 100 miles northwest of London. According to the records of Stratford's Holy Trinity Church, he was baptized on April 26. Since it was customary to baptize infants within days of birth, and since Shakespeare died 52 years later on April 23, and -- most significantly -- since April 23 is St. George's day, the patron saint of England, it has become traditional to assign the birth day of England's most famous poet to April 23. But as is the case with most sixteenth century births, the actual day is not recorded, so we cannot be absolutely sure. Shakespeare's parents were John and Mary Shakespeare, who lived in Henley Street, Stratford. ...read more.


This was, almost beyond doubt, Anne Hathaway, daughter of Richard Hathaway of Shottery--a gathering of farm houses near Stratford. The Hathaway farm house has become known to the tourist industry as Anne Hathaway's cottage. On May 26, 1583 their first daughter Susanna was baptised. Two years later, twins were born to them, Hamnet and Judith, named after Hamnet and Judith Sadler, apparently lifetime friends to Shakespeare. There is no documentary record of Shakespeare's activities after the birth of the twins, in 1585 until 1592. Biographers have therefore called these the lost years. In fact, there is nothing certain known about him from his birth in 1564 until 1592 except that he was married in 1582, fathered Susanna in 1583 and the twins Judith and Hamnet in 1585, and probably attended Stratford Grammar School. ...read more.


He must have in some sense been a freelance dramatist. However his work in the theatre all changed when in January 1593 the theaters in London were closed on account of the plague. From December 1592 until December 1593 records show that there were 10,675 plague deaths in a city of approximately 200,000. The theaters were allowed to open again briefly during the winter of 1594, but were closed again in February and remained closed until spring 1594. This period of theater closures played havoc with the professional acting companies, which were forced into touring with much reduced companies. Shakespeare seems to have sought preferment in the mean time with the social connections he had made. In 1593 he dedicated the long narrative poem Venus and Adonis to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton and Baron of Titchfield (1573-1624), who was 19 years old at the time. ...read more.

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