William Shakespeare was a 16th century playwright and poet, and is generally believed to be one of England’s greatest writers. Despite his reputation as one of literatures greats, very little is actually known about Shakespeare’s life. What information there is comes from official documentation such as marriage certificates and wills. The earliest known record of the young William Shakespeare is that of his baptism, taking place on 26 April 1564.
Born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, he was the third child of eight children to his relatively affluent parents John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. Although no records exist of William’s education, it is widely believed by scholars that he attended Stratford’s King’s New Grammer, which was a free school chartered in 1553, likewise there are no accounts which state that the playwright went into further education at a university.
On 28th November 1582, an 18 year old William married 26 year old Anne Hathaway. Only six months after the union, Anne gave birth to their first child, Susanna, who was baptised in Stratford on 26 May 1583. Approximately two years later, the baptism records of February 2 1585, show that twins, Judith and Hamnet were born. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died at the age of 11 from unknown causes; his funeral took place on 11 August 1596.
It is unknown exactly when the playwright began writing, however records of performances in London are evidence that a number of his shows were on the stage by 1592. In April of the following year, he entered his first poem ‘Venus and Adonis’ in the Stationers’ Registrar.
From 1594 onwards, Shakespeare became a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company of actors, and insisted that only they could perform his plays. In 1599, a partnership of company members built the Globe Theatre on the River Thames, and some years later they also acquired the Blackfriars Indoor Theatre. Records showing the Bards investments suggest that the company made him an affluent man. In 1597, William purchased New Place, a very desirable building and the second largest property in Stratford. It is believed that this became his family home, though he divided his time between there and London.
By 1598, Shakespeare had become a leading figure in the arts and had great success as a playwright, acting in many of his own and others plays. From 1607, he began to write less, with no further works being credited to him after 1613. Three years later, on 23 April 1616, William Shakespeare died at New Place and was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. On his tombstone an inscription states a curse on the moving of his bones:
Good frend for lesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.