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William Shakespeare | Biography

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William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564. Birth certificates and other record keeping was not common in Elizabethan times, so the first recorded date associated with Shakespeare is his baptismal record, dated April 26, 1564. His father, John Shakespeare, was a successful tradesman, while his mother, Mary Arden, was a daughter of the gentry. It is presumed that Shakespeare attended school to learn reading, writing, and the classics because his father's position as alderman would have provided him a free education.

Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582. On May 26, 1583, his first child, a girl named Susanna, was baptized at Stratford. His son Hamnet and daughter Judith were baptized on February 2, 1585. Hamnet died of unknown causes in 1596.

Not much is known of Shakespeare's life in the late 1580s, but by the end of 1592, Shakespeare was an established playwright in London. Shakespeare was an actor, writer, and partial owner of an acting company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men. After the death of Elizabeth I and the coronation of James I in 1603, the troupe changed their name and became the King's Men. By 1599 Shakespeare and his business partners had built the Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames.

Henry IV, Part 2 was written in the 1590s, when Shakespeare wrote most of his histories. Many of these royal histories dramatize the results of corrupt or unfit rulers. Most scholars attribute this to Shakespeare artistically justifying the rulership of the Tudors and currying political favor.

Shakespeare continued to spend time in London overseeing his company, though he did return to Stratford to retire sometime in 1610–11. He died on April 23, 1616. He is buried in Stratford-upon-Avon in Holy Trinity Church.

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