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William Shakespeare is often called the world's greatest playwright. He wrote comedies, tragedies and historical plays in England in the last part of the 16th and the early 17th century.
William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in the English town of Stratford-upon-Avon. His father was a businessman and the town's mayor. His mother came from a family that owned land near Stratford. William had three younger brothers and two younger sisters.
Like other boys of middle-class
families, William attended a grammar
school in Stratford where he got a good
education and also learned Latin.
When William was 18 he married
AnneHathaway. They had three children,
first Susanna and then twins, a son
named Hamnet and a daughter named
Judith. Hamnet died when he was 11.
We don't really know what William
didduring the following years but in 1592
he went to London to work as a writer
and actor. It was a difficult job and
only the best found work in London.
From 1592 to 1594 the Black Death
Spread across England. Many public places
were closed and plays couldn't be performed
either. Shakespeare spent these years
writing sonnets and poems.
When the theatres opened up
again in 1594 Shakespeare
joined the best acting
company of the country
—Lord Chamberlain's Men.
It had the best actors, the
best writers and the most famous
The Globe was a huge
amphitheatre without a roof.
The seats were curved around a
stage that was built on many
Shakespeare and his fellow actors were responsible for everything in the Globe theatre. They owned the building and the costumes, they wrote the scripts and they also shared the profits that they made. The actors and writers of the theatre worked together successfully for many years.
In the twenty years that he worked on stage Shakespeare wrote 37 plays.
- Tragedies are plays that show the downfall of a main character. His most famous tragedies are Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth.
- Comedies are funny plays that have a happy ending most of the time. A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It and The Merry Wives of Windsor are among the most popular.
- Historical plays are dramas about the lives of some of England's most powerful kings like Henry IV or Richard II.
William Shakespeare retired from the theatre in 1610 and went back to his home town Stratford, where he lived until his death in 1616.
At that time the people of England did not know that their country's greatest poet and playwright had died. They thought of him only as a popular actor and writer.