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A Brief Biography of William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is probably one of English literature’s greatest influences. Not a lot is actually known about him, but we do know about his life comes from court records, wills, marriage certificates and his tombstone.

William was thought to have been born in 1564. We know this from the earliest record we have of his life; his baptism which happened on Wednesday, April the 26th, 1564. We don’t actually know his exact birthday but from this record we assume he was born in 1564. William’s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare. William was third of seven siblings (four brothers and three sisters).

From baptism records, we know William's father was a John Shakespeare, said to be a town official of Stratford and a local businessman. John worked with grain and sometimes was described as a glover maker by trade. He was also one of fourteen officials which formed the town council. William's mother was Mary Arden who married John Shakespeare in 1557. The youngest daughter in her family, she inherited much of her father’s landowning and farming estate when he died.

Very little is known about Shakespeare’s education. We know that the King’s New Grammar School taught boys basic reading and writing. We assume William attended this school since it existed to educate the sons of Stratford but we have no definite proof.

In 1582 William got married. A bond certificate dated November the 28th, 1582, reveals that an eighteen year old William married the twenty-six and pregnant Anne Hathaway. Barely seven months later, they had his first daughter, Susanna. Anne never left Stratford, living there her entire life. Susanna was baptised in Stratford sometime in May, 1583. Baptism records again reveal that twins Hamnet and Judith were born in February 1592. Hamnet, William's only son died in 1596, just eleven years old. William's family was unusually small in a time when families had many children to ensure parents were cared for in later years.

William is believed to have left his family for some twenty years while he pursued his passion in London.
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