William Shakespeare


Although Shakespeare is one of the most famous persons in English history, and left an astounding legacy of plays, sonnets and poetry, very few details are known about his life. It is possible that Shakespeare intentionally destroyed records related to his personal life before he died. He lived at a time when religious persecution was still rife and he may have feared that disclosure about his personal beliefs or habits may have hindered his reputation in the future. Because of the thorough lack of specific historical information about him, theories abound about what Shakespeare may have been like, or even who he might "really" have been. These speculations are often backed up by elaborate interpretations and arguments. Nevertheless, almost nothing is known for certain about him, except that his was a literary genius, and arguably the greatest writer in the history of the English language.

Shakespeare's most important works are his 38 plays, which include a number of historical works, most relating to the Plantagenet era in English history, and also numerous comedies and tragedies. All of his plays are noteworthy, and a great many, including Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Henry V, Richard III, King Lear, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Nights Dream, the Merchant of Venice, the Taming of the Shrew, and Measure for Measure are among the most famous plays in the English language. Likewise, the overall quality of his sonnets and other poems is exceedingly high—he appears to have been able to write beautiful verse almost instinctively.

It is certain from his works that he had an excellent education, and was familiar with the works of Plutarch, Chaucer and many of the other most important writers of the day, but how he came about this education, and what the extent of it was, no one knows for certain.

Key events during the life of William Shakespeare:

Birth of Shakespeare
Marries Anne Hathaway.
Beginning of Shakespeare's most productive period
End of Shakespeare's most productive period.
Death of Shakespeare

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Shakespeare—The Boy  in  English Literature for Boys and Girls  by  H. E. Marshall
Great Dramatist  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge
England's Greatness in the Days of Elizabeth  in  The Tudors and the Stuarts  by  M. B. Synge

Book Links
Tales from Shakespeare  by  Charles Lamb
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare  by  E. Nesbit

Image Links

Shakespeare at the Court of Elizabeth
 in  The Story of the English

It was only Master Shakespeare.
 in English Literature for Boys and Girls

William Shakespeare
 in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare

The Globe Theatre as in was in Shakespeare's time
 in The Tudors and the Stuarts

A page from one of the early editions of Shakespeare's works
 in The Tudors and the Stuarts

Short Biography
Elizabeth I Led England through tumultuous age of reformation and discovery. Reigned 45 years.
James I First Stuart king of England. Intelligent and competent, but unable to work effectively with Parliament.
Francis Bacon Chancellor of England, and advocate of the scientific method of experiment and induction.