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Shakespeare's Birth & Death

Records show William Shakespeare was baptised 26 April 1564.

He died 23rd April 1616.

Baptisms were usually 3 days after a baby was born so it is generally accepted that Shakespeare was born 23rd April 1564.

If we accept the dates it would mean Shakespeare died on his birthday when he was exactly 52 years old.

Shakespeare's Life

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, but later moved to London to seek work in the theatre. He started his career holding the horses of theatregoers.

Shakespeare had three children with his wife, Anne Hathaway.

When he left for London, he left his family behind in Stratford. He did, however, retire back to Stratford at the end of his career.

There is evidence that Shakespeare was a “secret” Catholic.

By the end of his life, Shakespeare was a wealthy gentleman and had a coat of arms. His final residence was New Place, the largest house in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare was buried inside Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

Shakespeare’s epitaph is a warning to anyone tempted to open his grave.

Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrated worldwide every year. The main festival is in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23rd which is also Saint George’s Day.

Shakespeare's Plays

Shakespeare wrote 38 plays.

Shakespeare’s plays are split into three genres: tragedy, comedy and history.

Hamlet is considered by many to be his best play – and the greatest play ever written.

Romeo and Juliet is perhaps his most famous play.

In Shakespeare's day all the female parts in A Midsummer Night's Dream
and other plays would have been acted by teenage boys.

It is believed that A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth are performed somewhere in the world on every day of every year.

Shakespeare’s plays were published by his friends after his death as a memorial;
and the book is known as the First Folio.

He co-authored other plays, also published but not included in the First Folio.

Shakespeare's Sonnets

He also wrote 154 sonnets.

The sonnets are split into sections. The first follows the Fair Youth and the second follows the so-called Dark Lady.

Sonnet 18 is perhaps the most famous sonnet.

Shakespeare’s sonnets are written in a strict poetic metre called Iambic Pentameter. Each one has fourteen lines and end with a rhyming couplet.

Shakespeare's Theatre

The theatre experience in Shakespeare’s time was very different to today – crowds would eat and talk through the production and plays would be performed in the open air.

The Globe Theatre was made from the materials of a stolen theatre that Shakespeare’s theatre company dismantled at midnight and floated across the River Thames.

Shakespeare described the Globe Theatre as the “Wooden O” because of its shape.

The original Globe Theatre was demolished to make way for tenements in 1644 when it fell out of use.

The building that currently stands in London is a replica built from traditional materials and techniques. It is not on the original site, but very close to it!

Today, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is the World’s leading producer of Shakespeare and is based in the Bard’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

View a short clip from the Midsumer sotry.
A Midsummer night's Dream clip

Romeo & Juliet clip

Read more about the Actors

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