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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Biography

Known as "The Bard of Avon" the actual date of William Shakespeare's birth date is not recorded, although it is generally celebrated on 23rd April. What is known is that he was baptised on 26th April 1564.

His father John was a glover and an Alderman originally from Snitterfield and his mother Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer.

William was the 3rd of eight children and the only surviving son. He was raised in Stratford-upon-Avon and although school records from that time have not survived it is believed he went to a free school a quarter of a mile from his home, the King's New School.

At the age of 18-year-old- he married Anne Hathaway on 27th November 1582 and six months after the wedding she gave birth to their daughter Susanna who was baptised on May 26th 1583.

Nearly two years later the twins, son Hamnet and daughter Judith were born and they were baptised on 2nd February 1585. Hamnet died at the age of 11-years-old but the cause of his death is unknown.

Shakespeare wrote his first play Henry VI Part I in 1589/1590 when he was around 25 years old and by 1592 several of his plays were on the London stage.

He was well known enough for playwright Robert Green to attack him in his publication "Groatsworth of Wit" saying that Shakespeare was acting above his rank trying to match university educated writers such as Christopher Marlowe,Thomas Nashe and Green himself.

From 1594 Shakespeare's plays were performed only by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a company owed by a group of players, including Shakespeare, that soon became the leading playing company in London.

After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 the company was awarded a Royal Patent by the new King James I and changed its name to The King's Men.

In 1599 a partnership of members built The Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the River Thames and in 1608 they also took over the Blackfriars Indoor Theatre.

Shakespeare's property and investments made him a wealthy man and he bought the 2nd largest house in Stratford, New Place in 1597. In 1605 he invested in a share of the Stratford Parish Tithes.

He divided his time between London and Stratford during his career and in 1596, the year before before he bought New Place, as his new family home in Stratford, he was living in the Parish of St Helen's, Bishopgate north of the River Thames.

In 1599 he moved across the river to Southwark but by 1604 he had moved north of the river again where he rented rooms north of St Paul's Cathedral from a French Huguenot called Chris Mountjoy who made ladies wigs and headwear.

Shakespeare retired to Stratford some years before his death but he continued to visit London. In March 1613 he bought a gatehouse in the former Blackfriars Prior and from November 1614 he was in London for several weeks with his son-on-law physician John Hall, who was married to Susanna.

After 1606/7 he wrote fewer plays and his last play was "The Two Noble Kinsmen" written in 1613 when he was 49-years-old.

Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday on 23rd April 1616, he was survived by his wife and two daughters. Two months before he died Judith married vintner Thomas Quiney.

In his will he left the bulk of his estate to Susanna with instructions she passed it intact to her firstborn son. But Susanna and John only had one child Elizabeth who married twice but died without having any children.

Judith and Thomas had three children who all died without marrying which ended Shakespeare's line of succession.

He was buried in the Chancel of Holy Trinity Church two days after his death. He wrote in his epitaph a curse against anyone moving his bones, so they had to be carefully avoided when the church was restored in 2008.

Statues and Memorials to him have been placed around the world and there are monuments to him in Southwark Cathedral and Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. All the time he was writing he followed a full business life running an acting company and a theatre and he was also writing poems and living a family life.

 
 
 

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