William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare picture

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English writer of plays and poems. Many people believe he is the world's greatest writer of plays and one of the world's finest poets. Shakespeare has also been the world's most popular author. His plays have been produced on stage and in films. His works have been published in many languages.

Shakespeare wrote at least 38 plays, including comedies, plays about characters in history, and sad plays called tragedies. His plays are about many different kinds of people, including kings, thieves, killers, shepherds, and great thinkers. Some of his most popular plays are Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also wrote some long poems and more than 150 shorter poems called sonnets.

Shakespeare's plays have been popular for hundreds of years because of his great understanding of how people think and feel. The characters in his plays seem like real people. His writing style is rich and colorful. Many people are familiar with lines from Shakespeare, though they may have never seen or read one of his plays. For example, “To be, or not to be,” is from Hamlet, and “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” is from Julius Caesar.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, northwest of London, England, in 1564. By 1592, he was living in London and quickly became one of the city's best actors and playwrights. In 1599, Shakespeare helped build the Globe Theatre, where most of his plays were first presented. King James I enjoyed the theater and let the actors in Shakespeare's group call themselves The King's Men. They performed regularly for the king and became London's most popular theater group. By 1612, Shakespeare had become England's most popular writer of plays. He died on April 2

William Shakespeare quote
William Shakespeare quote
Did You Know?

Nobody knows Shakespeare's actual birthday. Scholars think he was born on April 23, 1564, three days before his baptism was recorded at a church in Stratford, England. 
As far as we know, he never went beyond grammar school, probably finishing in his early to mid-teens.
Shakespeare and his wife, Anne Hathaway, had three children: Susanna and twins Judith and Hamnet. The twins were named after neighbors who named their son William. Although Hamnet died at age 11, his name lives on: It was sometimes written as Hamlet, the title of one of his father's greatest characters and plays.
While most people regularly use about 2,000 words, Shakespeare used more than 25,000 in his writing.
Shakespeare is the most translated author ever. His work is read in at least 80 languages, including Chinese, Italian, Armenian, Bengali, Tagalog, Uzbek and Krio.
Shakespeare is thought to have written 39 plays. About half were printed in small booklets before his death. But some of his most famous works, including Macbeth and Julius Caesar, were not printed in his lifetime. 
Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare? Some people think that other authors wrote the works credited to him. This is a debate that likely will continue.