Shakespeare: The Best Playwright that Ever Lived

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Shakespeare: The Best Playwright that Ever Lived

William Shakespeare was a supreme English poet and playwright,

universally recognized as the greatest of all the dramatists.

A complete, authoritative account of Shakespeare's life is lacking;

much supposition surrounds relatively few facts. His day of birth is

traditionally held on April 23, and he was baptized on April 24, 1564. He

was the third of eight children, and was the eldest son of John Shakespeare.

He was probably educated in a local grammar school. As the eldest son,

Shakespeare would of taken over his father's business, but according to one

account, he became a butcher because of reverses in his father's financial

situation. According to another account, he became a school master. That

Shakespeare was allowed considerable leisure time in his youth is suggested

by the fact that his plays show more knowledge of hunting and hawking than

do those of other dramatists. In 1582, he married Anne Hathaway. He is

supposed to have left Stratford after he was caught poaching in a deer park.

Shakespeare apparently arrived in London about 1588 and by 1592 had

attained success as a playwright. The publication of Venus and Adonis, The

Rape of Lucrece and of his Sonnets established his reputation as a poet in

the Renaissance manner. Shakespeare's modern reputation is based mainly on

the 38 plays he wrote, modified, or collaborated on.

Shakespeare's professional life in London was marked by a number of

financially advantageous arrangements that permitted him to share in the

profits of his acting company, the Chamberlain's Men, and its two theaters,

the Globe and the Blackfriars. His plays were given special presentation

at the courts of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. After about 1608,

Shakespeare's dramatic production lessened and he spent more time in

Stratford. There he established a family in and imposing house, the New

Place, and became a leading local citizen. He died on April 23, 1616, and

was buried in the Stratford church.

Although the precise date of many of Shakespeare's plays is in doubt,

his dramatic career is divided into four periods: (1) the period up to

1594, (2) the years from 1594 to 1600, (3) the years from 1600 to 1608, (4)

the period after 1608. In all periods, the plots of his plays were

frequently drawn from chronicles, histories, or earlier fiction.
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