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William Shakespeare was a great English playwright, dramatist

and poet who lived during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth

centuries. Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest playwright of

all time. No other writer's plays have been produced so many times or

read so widely in so many countries as his.

Shakespeare was born to middle class parents. His father, John,

was a Stratford businessman. He was a glove maker who owned a

leather shop. John Shakespeare was a well known and respected man

in the town. He held several important local governmental positions.

William Shakespeare's mother was Mary Arden. Though she was the

daughter of a local farmer, she was related to a family of considerable

wealth and social standing. Mary Arden and John Shakespeare were

married in 1557.

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. He was one

of eight children. The Shakespeare's were well respected prominent

people. When William Shakespeare was about seven years old, he

probably began attending the Stratford Grammar School with other

boys of his social class. Students went to school year round attending

school for nine hours a day. The teachers were strict disciplinarians.

Though Shakespeare spent long hours at school, his boyhood was

probably fascinating. Stratford was a lively town and during holidays,

it was known to put on pageants and many popular shows. It also held

several large fairs during the year. Stratford was a exciting place to

live. Stratford also had fields and woods surrounding it giving William

the opportunity to hunt and trap small game. The River Avon which

ran through the town allowed him to fish also. Shakespeare's' poems

and plays show his love of nature and rural life which reflects his


On November 28, 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway of

the neighboring village of Shottery. She was twenty-six, and he was

only eighteen at the time. They had three children. Susana was their

first and then they had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet,

Shakespeare's son, died in 1596. In 1607, his daughter Susana got

married. Shakespeare's other daughter, Judith, got married in 1616.

In London, Shakespeare's career took off. It is believed that he

may have become well known in London theatrical life by 1592. By

that time, he had joined one of the city's repertory theater companies.

These companies were made up of a permanent cast of actors who

presented different plays week after week. The companies were

commercial organizations that depended on admission from their

audience. Scholars know that Shakespeare belonged to one of the most

popular acting companies in London called The Lord Chamberlain's

Men. Shakespeare was a leading member of the group from 1594 for

the rest of his career. By 1594, at least six of Shakespeare's plays had

been produced.

During Shakespeare's life, there were two monarchs who ruled

England. They were Henry the eighth and Elizabeth the first. Both

were impressed with Shakespeare which made his name known. There

is evidence that he was a member of a traveling theater group, and a

schoolmaster. In 1594, he became an actor and playwright for Lord

Chamberlain's Men. In 1599, he became a part owner of the

prosperous Globe Theater. He also was a part owner of the Blackfriars

Theater as of 1609. Shakespeare retired to Stratford in 1613 where he

wrote many of his excellent plays.

There are many reasons as to why William Shakespeare is so

famous. He is generally considered to be both the greatest dramatist

the world has ever known as well as the finest poet who has written in

the English language. Many reasons can be given for Shakespeare's

enormous appeal. His fame basically is from his great understanding of

human nature. He was able to find universal human qualities and put

them in a dramatic situation creating characters that are timeless. Yet

he had the ability to create characters that are highly individual human

beings. Their struggles in life are universal. Sometimes they are

successful and sometimes their lives are full of pain, suffering, and


In addition to his understanding and realistic view of human

nature, Shakespeare had a vast knowledge of a variety of subjects.

These subjects include music, law, Bible, stage, art, politics, history,

hunting, and sports. Shakespeare had a tremendous influence on

culture and literature throughout the world. He contributed greatly to

the development of the English language. Many words and phrases

from Shakespeare's plays and poems have become part of our speech.

Shakespeare's plays and poems have become a required part of

education in the United States. Therefore, his ideas on subjects such as

romantic love, heroism, comedy, and tragedy have helped shape the

attitudes of millions of people. His portrayal of historical figures and

events have influenced our thinking more than what has been written in

history books. The world has admired and respected many great

writers, but only Shakespeare has generated such enormous continuing

interest. My source states explanations rather than opinions on why

Shakespeare's contributions to literature are so vast. My source

devoted thirty pages to William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's plays are usually divided into three major

categories. These are comedy, tragedy, and history. Three plays which

are in the category of comedy are "The Comedy of Errors", "The

Taming of the Shrew", and "The Two Gentlemen of Verone". Three

plays which are in the category of tragedy are "Romeo and Juliet",

"Titus Andronicus", and "Julius Caesar". In the category of history,

three plays are "Henry V", "Richard II", and "Richard III".

Source: Essay UK -

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