William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Biography describes the life of William Shakespeare. From birth to death,
Shakespeare Biography describes all that is known about Shakespeare’s life from available
documentation including court and church records, marriage certificates and criticisms by Shakespeare’s
Shakespeare (1564-1616): Who was he?
Though William Shakespeare is recognized as one of literature’s greatest influences, very little is actually known about him. What we do know about his life comes from registrar records, court records, wills,marriage certificates and his tombstone.Anecdotes and criticisms by his rivals also speak of the famous
playwright and suggest that he was indeed a playwright, poet and an actor.

Date of Birth? (1564)
William was born in 1564. We know this from the earliest record we have of his life; his baptism which
happened on Wednesday, April the 26th, 1564. We don’t actually know his birthday but from this record
we assume he was born in 1564. Similarly by knowing the famous Bard’s baptism date, we can guess
that he was born three days earlier on St. George’s day, though we have no conclusive proof of this.

Brothers and Sisters.
William was the third child of John and Mary Shakespeare. The first two were daughters and William was
himself followed by Gilbert who died in 1612 and Richard who died in 1613. Edmund (1580-1607), sixth in
the line was baptized on May the third, 1580 and William’s oldest living sister was Joan who outlived her
famous playwright brother. Of William’s seven siblings, only Judith and four of his brothers survived to

William’s Father.
From baptism records, we know William’s father was a John Shakespeare, said to be a town official of
Stratford and a local businessman who dabbled in tanning, leatherwork and whittawering which is working
with white leather to make items like purses and gloves. John also dealt in grain and sometimes was
described as a glover by trade.
John was also a prominent man in Stratford. By 1560, he was one of fourteen burgesses which formed
the town council. Interestingly, William himself is often described as a keen businessman so we can
assume he got his business acumen from his father. In the Bard’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the
tree at all…

William’s mother: Mary Arden.
William’s mother was Mary Arden who married John Shakespeare in 1557. The youngest daughter in her
family, she inherited much of her father’s landowning and farming estate when he died.
Early Days on Henley Street…
Since we know Stratford’s famous Bard lived with his father, John Shakespeare, we can presume that he
grew up in Henley Street, some one hundred miles northwest of London.
The Bard’s Education.
Very little is known about literature’s most famous playwright. We know that the King’s New Grammar
School taught boys basic reading and writing. We assume William attended this school since it existed to
educate the sons of Stratford but we have no definite proof. Likewise a lack of evidence suggests that
William, whose works are studied universally at Universities, never attended one himself!

William marries an older woman. (1582)
A bond certificate dated November the 28th, 1582, reveals that an eighteen year old William married the
twenty-six and pregnant Anne Hathaway. Barely seven months later, they had his first daughter,
Susanna. Anne never left Stratford, living there her entire life.
The Bard’s children. (1583 & 1592)
Baptism records show that William’s first child, Susanna was baptized in Stratford sometime in May,Baptism records again reveal that twins Hamnet and Judith were born in February 1592. Hamnet,
William’s only son died in 1596, just eleven years old. Hamnet and Judith were named after William’s
close friends, Judith and Hamnet Sadler. William’s family was unusually small in a time when families had
many children to ensure parents were cared for in later years despite the very high mortality rates of
children and also their life expectancy in the 1500s.

The Bard as a poet.
Evidence that the great Bard was also a poet comes from his entering his first poem Venus and Adonis in
the Stationers’ Registrar on the 18th of April, 1593. The playwright registered his second poem The Rape
of Lucrece by name on the 9th of May, 1594.
The Bard suffers breech of copyright. (1609)
In 1609, the Bard’s sonnets were published without the Bard’s permission. It is considered unlikely that
William wanted many of his deeply personal poems to be revealed to the outside world. It was not
however the first time; in 1599, in a collection entitled “The Passionate Pilgrim” , two of his poems had
been printed without William’s permission.
The Bard’s lost years?
Looking for work in London, just four days ride way from Stratford, William is believed to have left his
family back home for some twenty years whilst he pursued his craft. He only returned back to his family in
1609, having visited only during the forty day period of Lent when theatres though open well into the start
of Lent would later close in accordance with the traditional banning of all forms of diversionary
entertainment around this important Easter event.
William applies for a Coat of Arms. (1596)
Records with the College of Heralds, reveal William applied for a coat of arms. Despite a lack of proof, he
was granted his request. Later in 1599 he applied for his mother’s coat of arms to be added to his own.

William buys major residential property. (1597)
At age 15, William purchased the New Place. This was one of the most prominent and desired properties
in all of Stratford being the second largest house in town. Given his father’s known financial hardship from
1576, William must either have used his own money to buy this expensive property or his father had
placed money in his son’s name. It is possible William might have bought this prominent property with
money from his plays. It is estimated that roughly fifteen of his 37 plays would have been written and
performed by 1597!
Will flats in London. (Circa 1601-1604)
Court records of a dispute between William’s landlord Christopher Mountjoy and his son-in-law Stephen
Belott confirm that William was living in London around 1601. The playwright’s name is recorded in the
court records when he gave testimony in 1612 concerning Mountjoy and Belott’s dispute. Interestingly, in
1601, he bought roughly 107 acres of arable land with twenty acres of pasturage for 20 pounds in Old
The Bard strikes it rich.
William made his greatest financial gain in 1605 when he purchased leases of real estate near Stratford.
This investment of some four hundred and forty pounds doubled in value and earned him 60 pounds
income each year. Some academics speculate that this investment gave the Bard the time he needed to
write plays uninterrupted and we know that he was indeed thought of as a businessman in the Stratford

A friend passes away.
Yet another record confirming the Bard’s existence was John Comb’s will which bequeathed to the Bard
the princely sum of just five pounds.
The Bard’s will and death.
Records reveal that the great Bard revised his will on March the 25th, 1616. Less than a month later, he
died on April the 23rd, 1616. Literature’s famous Bard is buried at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. He
infamously left his second-best bed to his wife Anne Hathaway and little else, giving most of his estate to
his eldest daughter Susanna who has married a prominent and distinguished physician named John Hall
in June 1607. This was not as callous as it seems; the Bard’s best bed was for guests; his second-best
bed was his marriage bed… His will also named actors Richard Burbage, Henry Condell and John
Hemminges, providing proof to academics today that William was involved in theatre. The Bard’s direct
line of descendants ended some 54 years later until Susanna’s daughter Elizabeth died in 1670.

The Bard’s last words…
Written upon William Shakespeare’s tombstone is an appeal that he be left to rest in peace with a curse
on those who would move his bones…
Good friend, for Jesus´ sake forbeare
To digg the dust enclosed here!
Blest be ye man that spares thes stones
And curst be he that moues my bones.
Translated this reads as:
Good friend, for Jesus’ sake, forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here;
Blest be the man that spares these stones
And curst he that moves my bones.

Did Shakespeare write the 37 plays and 154 sonnets credited to him?
The evidence above proves William existed but not that he was a playwright nor an actor nor a poet. In
fact recently some academics who call themselves the Oxfords argue that Stratford’s celebrated
playwright did not write any of the plays attributed to him. They suggest that he was merely a
businessman and propose several contenders for authorship, namely an Edward de Vere.
Evidence that the great Bard wrote his plays.
The earliest proof that William did indeed write 37 plays was Robert Greene’s criticism of the Bard in
his Groatsworth of Wit, Bought with a Million of Repentance which attacked Shakespeare for having the
nerve to compete with him and other playwrights in 1592 . Robert Greene made this quite clear by calling
him “an upstart crow”. This criticism was placed with the Stationers’ Registrar on the 20th of September,
Proof that William was an actor comes from his own performances before Queen Elizabeth herself in
1594 and evidence of William’s interest in theatre comes from the Bard’s name being listed in 1594 and
1595 as a shareholder (part owner) of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, a theatre company.
The Bard’s reputation as a poet is again confirmed in 1598, when Francis Meres attacked him as
being “mellifluous” and described his work as honey-tongued, “sugared sonnets among his private
friends” in his own Palladis Tamia of 1598.
William’s theatre presence is again confirmed by his name being recorded as one of the owners of the
Globe theatre in 1599 and on May the 19th, 1603, he received a patent, titling him as one of the King’s
Men (previously called the Chamberlain’s men) and a Groom of the Chamber by James I, the then King
of England. This honour made William a favorite for all court performances, earned each King’s man extra
money (30 pounds each for a performance in 1603 alone) and made the Bard’s name one rather above
reproach. Macbeth which celebrates King James I ancestor Malcolm, is considered to have been written
in part as appreciation for the King’s patronage. And as a potent form of royalist propaganda (it warned of
the dangers of killing a King appointed like James, by God).
The First Folio (1623): Conclusive proof that Shakespeare authored his plays.
The proof most often cited that Shakespeare authored his plays however, was the First Folio (1623)
where Henry Condell and John Hemminges who were actors in the Bard’s theatre company, claim in a
dedicatory verse within the Folio that they recorded and collected his plays as a memorial to the late actor
and playwright. In terms of value, the First Folio originally was sold for just 1 Pound in 1623. Today as
one of just 250 still in existence, it would fetch nearly 3 million dollars (US).
Ben Jonson criticizes and then praises William by name.
Further proof of authorship comes in the form of a poem by Ben Jonson, one of the Bard’s more friendly
rivals, which criticizes the playwrights dramatic plays. It is contained within a work
entitled Discoveries (also known as Timber) dated 1641. Despite his criticism, Ben Johnson paradoxically
also said that Stratford’s famous Bard’s works were timeless, describing them as “not of an age, but for all

Shakespeare’s Plays
Shakespeare’s plays form one of literature’s greatest legacies. Divided into comedies, histories and
tragedies, shakespeare plays have spawned thousands of performances, adaptations and films. From
famous tragedies like Macbeth and King Lear to tragic love stories such as Romeo and Juliet to epic
historic plays like Antony and Cleopatra, enlighten, sadden, teach and most important of all, entertain.
Text: Craig, W.J., ed. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. London: Oxford University Press:

Comedies Histories Tragedies
All’s Well That Ends Well
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Love’s Labours Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merchant of Venice
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Winter’s Tale
Henry IV, Part I
Henry IV, Part II
Henry V
Henry VI, Part I
Henry VI, Part II
Henry VI, Part III
Henry VIII
King John
Richard II
Richard III
Antony and Cleopatra
Julius Caesar
King Lear
Romeo and Juliet
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus

Shakespeare Quiz
Test your knowledge of the Great Bard by trying our grueling Shakespeare Quiz.
1) When was Shakespeare born?
2) How many plays and sonnets did Shakespeare write?
3) Was Shakespeare ever in “love”?
4) Who said “O, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo”?
5) The line “To be or not to be” comes from which play?
a) King Lear.
b) Richard II.
c) Julius Caesar.
d) Hamlet.
6) Was Shakespeare born in:
a) Stratford-upon-Avon.
b) London.
c) Venice.
d) New York.
7) Was the Globe…
a) A Roman Amphitheater.
b) An Elizabethan Theatre.
c) An Elizabethan sports stadium.
d) A famous map of the world.
8) True or False: Was Shakespeare an actor as well as a poet and playwright?
9) True or false: Was the movie “Shakespeare in Love”, a true story?
10) True or False: Is there is a monument of Shakespeare in Stratford today?
11) Did Shakespeare invent words?


Shakespeare was born in 1564. He died in 1616.

Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. One play called “Cardenio” has no written record
today. Only 36 plays can be read today.

Shakespeare was in love. At age 18, he married the 26 year old Anne Hathaway. They were
married the rest of Shakespeare’s life…

From her balcony, Juliet famously said “O, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?,” in
“Romeo and Juliet”.

(d) Hamlet uttered the famous words, “To be or not to be” in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.

(a) Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, just 5 miles from London.

(c) The Globe was an Elizabethan theatre, Shakespeare partially owned, where he performed
many of his plays. A reconstruction exists today in the same suburb as the original in Southwark.

True. Shakespeare acted in his own plays before Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.

False. There is no historical evidence for the romance occurring in the movie. It may have
happened but Shakespeare was married at the time.

True. Yes, he invented the word “assassination” amongst others.
Charice — Louder lyrics
Louder Louder Louder Louder
I’m staring out of my window
And the rain is pouring down
When you left, I was so low
But I’m not gonna drown
I don’t need no shoulder
I’m gonna be a soldier
I just wanna feel somethin’ I don’t
I’m just gonna run right through the rain
I’m just gonna dance right through the pain
I just wanna feel that rhythm, feel that
Let my heart beat louder
Let my heart speak louder than my head
(head, head, head)
Heart beat louder than my head (head,
head, head)
Heart speak louder
Wanna feel that rhythm, feel that drum
Let my heart beat louder
Let my heart speak louder than my head
I, I am over overthinking of how to get you
I’m checking out for the weekend
And I ain’t going back
I don’t need no shoulder
I’m gonna be a soldier
I just wanna feel somethin’ I don’t
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/charice-louderlyrics.html ]
I’m just gonna run right through the rain
I’m just gonna dance right through the pain
I just wanna feel that rhythm, feel that
Let my heart beat louder
Let my heart speak louder than my head
(head, head, head)
Heart beat louder than my head (head,
head, head)
Heart speak louder
Wanna feel that rhythm, feel that drum
Let my heart beat louder
Let my heart speak louder than my head
Oh, letting go
Yet it feel so good, so right
Oh, all I know
Is that I let my heart beat
Heart speak louder than my louder than my
Heart beat heart speak louder than my
louder than my
Heart beat heart speak louder than my
louder than my louder, louder, louder,
I’m just gonna run right through the rain
I’m just gonna dance right through the pain
I just wanna feel that rhythm, feel that
Let my heart beat louder
Let my heart speak louder than my head
(head, head, head)
Heart beat louder than my head (head,
head, head)
Heart speak louder
Wanna feel that rhythm, feel that drum
Let my heart beat louder
Let my heart speak louder than my head

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