When most people think of William Shakespeare, they think of the iconic playwright and poet who wrote some of the most famous plays in history. But what many people don’t know is that Shakespeare was also an actor, and he started his career in the theater.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the life and times of William Shakespeare, from his early childhood to his retirement and death. We’ll also explore some of his most famous works, including comedies, tragedies, and sonnets.
So sit back and enjoy a closer look at one of the greatest minds in history!
Who was Shakespeare?
William Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language. His plays and poems have been translated into every major language and his work has influenced writers for centuries.
While much about his life remains a mystery, we do know that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died in 1616 at the age of 52. His plays are typically divided into comedies, histories, and tragedies, and many of them are still regularly performed today.
Shakespeare is also credited with introducing hundreds of new words to the English language, including “bedroom,” “eyeball,” and “lawn.” In addition to his lasting literary legacy, Shakespeare is also an important figure in the history of English theatre. He helped to popularize the use of blank verse and sonnets, and his plays were some of the first to be performed at the newly built Globe Theatre.
While there has been much speculation about who Shakespeare was – including the theory that he was Sir Francis Bacon – there is no definitive answer. However, what we do know is that William Shakespeare was a hugely talented writer who left a lasting mark on English literature.
Early Life: William’s Birth and Childhood.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town 100 miles northwest of London, in 1564. His birthday is traditionally celebrated on April 23, and he was baptized in the parish church on April 26. William’s father, John Shakespeare, was a prominent merchant and an alderman of the town; his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a wealthy landowner from a neighboring village.
William was the third of eight children, though his two elder siblings died in childhood. As was common at the time, William probably attended school for only a few years; his formal education ended when he was about thirteen. At that time he may have gone to work for his father, who had by then become a successful baker. Or he may have been apprenticed to a local butcher or cobbler.
At the age of 18, he married Ann Hathaway and they had three children. His first born child was Susanna, who was born in May 1583 she was christened on 26 May 1583. Then the couple had twins named Hamnet and Judith in January 1585.
We do not know the exact date that William left Stratford for London as there are conflicting reports. What we do know is that he most likely left between 1585 and 1592. The later date has been confirmed as his name appeared in print as a playwright.
William Shakespeare’s friends in London were a close-knit group of people who shared common interests and goals. They were also deeply involved in the theater community, which was a central part of Shakespeare’s life.
Many of his friends were fellow actors, including Richard Burbage and Augustine Phillips. Burbage was one of the leading actors of his time and had a close relationship with Shakespeare. Phillips was also a well-known actor, but he was also Shakespeare’s business partner in the theater company they co-owned.
Other important members of Shakespeare’s social circle were John Heminges and Henry Condell. Heminges was another close friend and business partner, as well as being one of the king’s few sanctioned theater owners. Condell was an actor and playwright, and he helped to publish many of Shakespeare’s works after his death.
These men were all integral parts of Shakespeare’s life, both professionally and personally, and their friendship helped to shape his work.
Theatrical Career: From the Globe to the Royal Court.
William Shakespeare’s theatrical career began in the late 1580s or early 1590s. He was a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a playing company that performed at the Globe Theatre. In 1599, the company became the King’s Men, and Shakespeare wrote many of his most famous plays for them, including Hamlet and Macbeth.
Eventually, his plays began to be performed at the larger, more prestigious royal court. While court performances were a great honor, they also came with stricter rules and expectations.
For example, Shakespeare’s plays often had to be revised to suit the tastes of the courtiers. Nevertheless, Shakespeare’s reputation as a playwright continued to grow, and his plays remained popular with audiences of all types.
In 1642, the Globe was closed due to the outbreak of the English Civil War. After the war, theatres were allowed to re-open, but by this time Shakespeare had retired from acting and was living in Stratford-upon-Avon. He continued to write plays until he died in 1616.
Shakespeare’s Works: Comedies, Tragedies, and Sonnets.
William Shakespeare wrote approximately 38 plays, including comedies, tragedies, and histories. He also wrote 154 sonnets, which are a type of poetry.
Among his best-known plays are Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Shakespeare’s better known poems include “Sonnet 18,” “Sonnet 116,” and “The Phoenix and the Turtle.”
Shakespeare’s plays are still performed today and are very popular. Many of his phrases have become part of everyday speech, such as “to be or not to be” and “the world is your oyster.”
His works continue to entertain and educate audiences around the world.
Sonnet 116 – Love and How Love Doesn’t Fade Away.
While William Shakespeare is best known as a playwright, he also wrote a number of poems, including several sonnets. One of his most famous sonnets, Sonnet 116, is often read at weddings and other celebrations of love. This sonnet focuses on the idea of true love being timeless and everlasting.
In the first quatrain, Shakespeare compares love to a series of images that are subject to change, such as the seasons, time, and fortune. However, he asserts that love remains constant despite these changes.
In the second quatrain, he goes on to say that love is not simply an ideal; it is also a reality that can be experienced in the here and now.
The third quatrain brings the poem to its climax, with Shakespeare declaring that love will continue to transcend time even after death has claimed one of the lovers.
Ultimately, Sonnet 116 is a tribute to the endurance of true love which clearly has some similarity to the storyline of Romeo and Juliet.
Later Life: Retirement and Death.
William Shakespeare retired from public life at the age of 49. He returned to his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, and bought a large house called New Place. He lived there for the rest of his life with his wife, Anne Hathaway, and their two daughters.
At the time of his retirement, Shakespeare was widely regarded as the greatest writer in England. His plays were performed all over the country, and he was hailed as a national treasure.
However, in his later years, Shakespeare’s health began to decline. He became increasingly reclusive and is believed to have died of natural causes in 1616.
William Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest writers in English history. His plays are still popular and performed all over the world, more than 400 years after his death. Many of his phrases have become part of everyday speech, such as “to be or not to be” and “the world is your oyster.”
In addition to his plays and poems, Shakespeare also left a legacy as a great actor. He was one of the first playwrights to retire from public life and return to his hometown.
Overall, William Shakespeare was an incredibly talented writer and actor whose work continues to entertain and educate audiences around the globe.