Well-known throughout the world, the works of William Shakespeare have been performed in countless theatres in different hamlets, villages, and cities for more than 400 years. And yet, the person behind it is somewhat of a mystery to us. The only sources we have of his life are either his work (plays, poems and sonnets) or church and court records However, these only provide an outline and brief sketches of certain events in his life and provide little on the person who experienced those events.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire in the year 1564, the exact date is uncertain, however according to church records; Shakespeare was baptized on April 26th of the same year, which made most scholars believe that he was born on or near April 23rd (Wikipedia, n.d.). His father, John Shakespeare, was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a landowner from Wilmcote. William was the third child of john and Mary; he had two older sisters, Joan and Judith, and three younger brothers, Gilbert, Richard and Edmund. No records exist of William's childhood, and virtually none regarding his education. Scholars have assumed that he most likely attended the King's New School, in Stratford, which taught reading, writing and the classics. But this uncertainty regarding his education has led some to raise questions about the true authorship of his work and even about whether he really existed or not. At the age of 18 he got married to the 26 year old Anne Hathaway. Together they had three children Susanna, Hamnet and Judith. Susanna was born on May 26, 1583. Two years later, on February 2, 1585, twins Hamnet and Judith were born. Hamnet later died of unknown causes at age 11 (BBC, n.d.). Belief has it that William Shakespeare died on his birthday, April 23, 1616, at the age of 52; though many scholars believe this is a myth (ThinkQuest, n.d.).
Shakespeare wrote 39 plays, including the two lost plays (Love's Labour's Won and the History of Cardenio), 154 sonnets in addition to several narrative poems. His first play was the trilogy of Henry VI where it gained modest success and paved the way for Shakespeare’s future works. With the exception of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare's first plays were mostly histories written in the early 1590s. Richard II, Henry VI (the trilogy), and Henry V dramatize the destructive results of weak and corrupt rulers, and have been interpreted by drama historians as Shakespeare's way of justifying the origins of the Tudor Dynasty.
Shakespeare also wrote several comedies during his early period: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado About Nothing plus others. It wasn’t until Shakespeare's later period, 1600s, that he wrote the tragedies like Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth. In these plays, Shakespeare's characters present vivid impressions of human nature that are timeless. Possibly the best known of these plays is Hamlet, which explores...