William Shakespeare was the son of
, a successful
, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer.
He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised on 26 April 1564. His actual birthdate is
unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April,
St George's Day
This date, which can
be traced back to an eighteenth-century scholar's mistake, has proved appealing because
Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616.
He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving
Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that
Shakespeare may have been educated at the
King's New School
a free school
chartered in 1553,
about a quarter of a mile from his home.
quality during the Elizabethan era, but the curriculum was dictated by law throughout
and the school would have provided an intensive education in
At the age of 18, Shakespeare married the 26-year-old
Diocese of Worcester
issued a marriage licence on 27 November 1582. Two of
Hathaway's neighbours posted bonds the next day as surety that there were no impediments to
The couple may have arranged the ceremony in some haste, since the
to be read once instead of the usual three
Anne's pregnancy could have been the reason for this. Six months after the marriage,
she gave birth to a daughter,
, who was baptised on 26 May 1583.
, followed almost two years later and were baptised on 2 February
Hamnet died of unknown causes at the age of 11 and was buried on 11 August 1596.
After the birth of the twins, there are few historical traces of Shakespeare until he is
mentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592. Because of this gap, scholars refer to
the years between 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare's "lost years".
Biographers attempting to
account for this period have reported many
first biographer, recounted a Stratford legend that Shakespeare fled the town for London to
escape prosecution for deer
Another eighteenth-century story has Shakespeare
starting his theatrical career minding the horses of theatre patrons in London.
reported that Shakespeare had been a country schoolmaster.
scholars have suggested that Shakespeare may have been employed as a schoolmaster by
Alexander Hoghton of
, a Catholic landowner who named a certain "William
Shakeshafte" in his will.