Shakespeare also spelled , byname or (baptized , , , Eng.—died , Stratford-upon-Avon), English poet, dramatist, and actor, often called the English national poet and considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, allegedly on April 23, 1564. Church records from Holy Trinity Church indicate that he was baptized there on April 26, 1564. Young William was born of John Shakespeare, a glover and leather merchant, and Mary Arden, a landed local heiress. William, according to the church register, was the third of eight children in the Shakespeare household—three of whom died in childhood. John Shakespeare had a remarkable run of success as a merchant, alderman, and high bailiff of Stratford, during William's early childhood. His fortunes declined, however, in the late 1570s.
There is great conjecture about Shakespeare's childhood years, especially regarding his education. Scholars surmise that Shakespeare attended the grammar school in Stratford. While there are no records extant to prove this claim, Shakespeare's knowledge of Latin and Classical Greek would tend to support this theory. In addition, Shakespeare's first biographer, Nicholas Rowe, wrote that John Shakespeare had placed William "for some time in a free school." John Shakespeare, as a Stratford official, would have been granted a waiver of tuition for his son. As the records do not exist, we do not know how long William may have attended the school, but the literary quality of his workssuggests a solid educational foundation. What is certain is that William Shakespeare never proceeded to university schooling, which has contributed to the debate about the authorship of his works.
Shakespeare occupies a position unique in world . Other poets, such as and , and novelists, such as and , have transcended national barriers; but no writer’s living reputation can compare to that of Shakespeare, whose plays, written in the late 16th and early 17th centuries for a small repertory theatre, are now performed and read more often and in more countries than ever before. The prophecy of his great contemporary, the poet and dramatist, that Shakespeare “was not of an age, but for all time,” has been fulfilled.
In 1599, along with some fellow actors, Shakespeare built a theatre on the South Bank of the River Thames which he named ‘The Globe’. It was here that many of his plays were performed. Today, visitors to London can still watch Shakespeare plays at the restored Globe Theatre.
William Shakespeare was a very well-known character in Tudor England. It is thought that Elizabeth I was a fan of his plays.