William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

portrait of William Shakespeare
The "Chandos" portrait, possibly by John Taylor, circa 1610
William Shakespeare signature
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Born: 23 April 1564, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
Died: 23 April 1616, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

Shakespeare's date of birth is presumed, based on his recorded baptism on the 26th, possibly so readily agreed to because of the resonance of his dying on the same date. He probably was educated in Latin and the classics at the King's New School at Stratford, his father's position would have entitled him to attend. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582, they had a daughter six months later and twin sons. Nothing is known of his life until 1592, at which time he was attacked in print for his pretension as a writer. He joined the Lord Chamberlain's Men, an actors' cooperative in 1594; after Queen Elizabeth's death in 1603 they received a royal patent from James I and became the King's Men. Shakespeare's recorded property holdings indicate he did quite well.

By 1613, when he retired to Stratford, he had written at least 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His works have been translated into more languages than any other English author, and he is the most quoted author of all time.

Biography from Wikipedia and Shakespeare Resource Center

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