William Shakespeare is believed to have been born on 23 April 1564 of the Julian calendar in Stratfordon Avon .
Regarding the birth of the writer, only a baptism document from the church of Stratford-upon-Avon (central England) is preserved, which testifies that on April 26, 1564, a Guilielmus Johannes Shakespeare was registered. April 23, the date on which his birth is usually set and which also coincides with that of his death at age 52 in 1616, is a convention that has been adopted, assuming that his parents baptized him three days after he was born. . However, since he was born under the old Julian calendar, what was April 23 during his lifetime would actually be May 3 according to the current Gregorian calendar.
He was the third of eight children, the first son of John, a glove merchant without studies, and Mary Arden, daughter of a Catholic landowner. John came to Stratford before 1532 as an apprentice and leather tanner. He prospered and began to trade in agricultural products and wool; he traded in gloves, leather, wood, and wheat. One of Shakespeare’s relatives on his mother’s side, William Arden, was arrested for conspiring against Queen Elizabeth I, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed.
Studies (William Shakespeare Biography 2023)
He studied at his local school and, as the first-born son, was destined to succeed his father in business.
He would have attended Grammar school or elementary school for about six years, whose basic subject was Latin , although he had to work as a butcher’s apprentice due to the difficulties economic situation that his father was going through.
Despite being one of the greatest figures in world literature, he never attended college. Wife and sons
In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, a farmer’s daughter, with whom he had a daughter, Susanna, in 1583, and twins—a boy, Hamnet, who died in 1596 aged eleven, and a girl, Judith—in 1585. Four years after his death he named the most famous ghost in all Elizabethan literature after his son: Hamlet.
He was eighteen years old and she was twenty-six, and at the time of the marriage she was three months pregnant. Her first daughter Susanna was born six months after the wedding.
His only granddaughter Elizabeth daughter of Susanna—died childless in 1670s. Shakespeare therefore had no descendants. Apparently, he had to leave Stratford as he was caught poaching on the property of the town’s Justice of the Peace.
It is believed that he arrived in London around 1588 and, four years later, had already achieved notable success as a dramatist and stage actor . Shakespare made a lot of money and accumulated a lot of land in his lifetime, but in London he led the life of a monk.
Most scholars agree that William wrote his first play, Henry VI , Part One around 1589-1590, when he was around 25 years old.
Between 1590 and 1613, he wrote at least 37 plays and collaborated on several more. Many of these plays were successful, both at court and in public theaters. William Shakespeare used his last name in more than 80 different forms, ranging from “Shappere” to “Shaxberd.”
In the few signatures that have survived, he never wrote his own name “William Shakespeare”, and used variations or abbreviations such as “Willm Shakp”, “Willm Shakespeare”. In addition to writing his numerous plays and sonnets, he was also an actor in many of his own plays, as well as those of other playwrights.
His works were performed at the court of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.
His first playsThey had a high degree of formality and were predictable and mannered. Henry VI , First, Second and Third parts (circa 1590-1592) and Ricardo III (circa 1593), deal with the consequences for the country of the lack of strong leadership.
The cycle closes with the death of Richard III and the accession to the throne of Henry VII , founder of the Tudor dynasty , to which Queen Elizabeth belonged.
They contain references to the medieval theater and to the works of the early Elizabethan playwrights, especially Christopher Marlowe , through whom he became acquainted with the works of the classical Latin playwright Seneca ..
The influence is manifested in its numerous bloody scenes and in its colorful and redundant language, especially noticeable in Titus Andronicus (1594), a tragedy full of revenge.
In this first period he wrote numerous comedies, among which it is worth highlighting La comedia de las equivocaciones (circa 1592), a farce about the identity errors caused by two sets of twins and the misunderstandings that occur regarding love and war. The character of farce is no longer so evident in La doma de la bravía (circa 1593), a comedy of characters. On the other hand, The Two Hidalgos of Verona (circa 1594) bases his appeal on the use of idyllic love, while Love’s Labour’s Lost(circa 1594) satirizes the love affairs of his male characters.
He wrote some of his most important works related to English history and the so-called light comedies, as well as two of his best tragedies. Among the first, it is worth highlighting Richard II (around 1595), Henry IV , First and Second parts (around 1597) and Henry V (around 1598), which cover a period of time immediately prior to Henry VI’s.
Among the comedies of this period, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (circa 1595) stands out, a work full of fantasy in which several plot threads are intertwined. In The Merchant of Venice(circa 1596), one can find another subtle evocation of exotic atmospheres similar to that of the previous work. The comedy Much Ado About Nothing (circa 1599) deforms, in the opinion of many critics, in its somewhat callous treatment, the female characters.
However, the comedies of maturity As You Like It (circa 1600) and Epiphany Night (circa 1600) are characterized by their lyricism, their ambiguity and the attractiveness of their beautiful heroines. In As You Like It, he describes the contrast between the refined customs of the Elizabethan court and those of the rural areas of the country and built a complex plot based on the relationships between reality and fiction. Another of the comedies of this second period,The Merry Wives of Windsor (circa 1599), is a farce about middle-class life.
Two tragedies, very different from each other due to their nature, mark the beginning and end of this second period. On the one hand, Romeo and Juliet (circa 1595) stages the tragic destiny of two lovers, forged by the enmity of their families. On the other, Julius Caesar (circa 1599) is a tragedy about political rivalry. Hamlet (circa 1601), his most universal work, goes beyond the other tragedies focused on revenge, as it portrays the mixture of glory and sordidness that characterizes human nature. othello, the Moor of Venice (circa 1604) exposes the rise and spread of unjustified jealousy in the heart of the protagonist, a Moor who is the general of the Venetian army.
King Lear (circa 1605), conceived in a more epic tone, describes the consequences of the irresponsibility and misjudgment of Lear, ruler of ancient Britain , and his adviser, the Duke of Gloucester . Antony and Cleopatra (circa 1606), focuses on another kind of love, the passion of the Roman general Mark Antony for Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt , glorified by some of the most sensual lines in all of Shakespearean production . Macbeth(circa 1606), describes the process of a good man who succumbs to ambition and goes as far as murder. Troilo and Cressida (circa 1602), reveals the abyss between the ideal and the real, and in Coriolano (circa 1608), the Roman Gaius Marcio Coriolano is incapable of seducing the masses. Timon of Athens (circa 1608) tells the story of a character reduced to misanthropy. There is no bad beginning to a good end (circa 1602) and Measure for measure (circa 1604) question official morality.
The romantic tragicomedy Pericles , Prince of Tire(circa 1608), shows a character dejected by the loss of his wife and the persecution of his daughter. In Cymbeline (circa 1610) and The Winter’s Tale (circa 1610), the characters also endure great suffering, although in the end they achieve happiness. The Tempest (circa 1611), another tragicomedy exposes the effects of the alliance between wisdom and power.
The historical drama Henry VIII (circa 1613) and The Two Noble Knights (circa 1613 and published in 1634), attributed to Shakespeare, seem rather to be the fruit of his collaboration with John Fletcher .
He was patronized by Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. The publication of two erotic poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucretia (1594), and of his Sonnets by him (edited 1609) gave him a reputation as a brilliant poet. In London he shared in the profits of the theater company in which he performed, Chamberlain’s Men, later renamed King’s Men, and of the two theaters it owned, The Globe and Blackfriars.
Return to Stratfordon Avon
In 1610 he returned to his native town. He had accomplished one of his many purposes, to make a fortune. Legal metaphors ( When to the Sessions of sweet silent thought / I summon up remembrance of things past .) curiously abound in his work; up to the date of his death Shakespeare devoted himself to litigation with neighbors.
During his lifetime, he wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets, which means an average of 1.5 plays a year since he began writing in 1589. It did not occur to him to deliver his vast scattered work to the printer. ; thomas de quinceyhe conjectures that for Shakespeare, theatrical performance was the real advertisement, not the printing of a text. His excellent work and his mark on the history of universal literature contrast radically with the scarcity of documents that testify to his personal journey.
Being the most important writer of all time, only 14 words of his handwriting remain: six signatures and the statement “by me” at the end of his will. Shortly before he died he had made his will; there is talk of furniture and real estate, but not a single book is mentioned.
Death (William Shakespeare Biography 2023)
He died in Stratford-upon-Avon , Warwickshire , United Kingdom, according to the Gregorian calendar on May 3, 1616, according to the Julian calendar on April 23, 1616. Around those dates Cervantes died in Madrid; doubtless neither of them had heard of the other.
Epitaph (William Shakespeare Biography 2023)
On the tombstone that covers his tomb the epitaph reads: ” Good friend, for the love of Jesus, refrain from digging the dust enclosed here. Blessed is the man who forgives these stones, and cursed is he who moves my bones .”
On November 28, 1582, at the age of eighteen, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.
In 1592, he arrived in London and began working as an actor and playwright.
He becomes a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a troupe of actors.
He wrote his famous work “Hamlet” in 1601.
He was the author of approximately 38 plays, including comedies, tragedies and historical drama.
Other of his most famous works include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing.