William Shakespeare Biography

English dramatist and poet, William Shakespeare, (1564–1616), is considered the greatest playwright who ever lived.

Life of Shakespeare

Little is known of Shakespeare’s boyhood, but it is believed that he attended the grammar school in Stratford , where he would have been educated in the classics, particularly Latin grammar and literature. In 1594 Shakespeare became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It is thought that as an actor he played old men’s roles, such as the ghost in Hamlet and Old Adam in As You Like It. In 1599 he became a partner in the ownership of the Globe theatre, and in 1608 he was part owner of the Blackfriars theatre.

Plays of Shakespeare

His first plays are believed to be the three parts of Henry VI. After these came The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Romeo and Juliet. After these early plays, and before his great tragedies, Shakespeare wrote Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King John, The Merchant of Venice, Parts I and II of Henry IV, Much Ado about Nothing, Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night.

The period of Shakespeare’s great tragedies and the “problem plays” begins in 1600 with Hamlet. Following this are The Merry Wives of Windsor, Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens.

Appeal and Influence

Since his death Shakespeare’s plays have been almost continually performed; they are quoted more than the works of any other single author. The strength of Shakespeare’s plays lies in the absorbing stories they tell, in their wealth of complex characters. It has often been noted that Shakespeare’s characters are neither wholly good nor wholly evil, and that it is their flawed, inconsistent nature that makes them memorable. Finally, the plays are distinguished by an unparalleled use of language. Shakespeare had a tremendous vocabulary and a corresponding sensitivity to nuance, as well as a singular aptitude for coining neologisms and punning.

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