William Shakespeare was a great English playwright, dramatist
and poet who lived during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries. Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest playwright of
all time. No other writer’s plays have been produced so many times or
read so widely in so many countries as his.
Shakespeare was born to middle class parents. His father, John,
was a Stratford businessman. He was a glove maker who owned a
leather shop. John Shakespeare was a well known and respected man
in the town. He held several important local governmental positions.
William Shakespeare’s mother was Mary Arden. Though she was the
daughter of a local farmer, she was related to a family of considerable
wealth and social standing. Mary Arden and John Shakespeare were
married in 1557.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. He was one
of eight children. The Shakespeare’s were well respected prominent
people. When William Shakespeare was about seven years old, he
probably began attending the Stratford Grammar School with other
boys of his social class. Students went to school year round attending
school for nine hours a day. The teachers were strict disciplinarians.
Though Shakespeare spent long hours at school, his boyhood was
probably fascinating. Stratford was a lively town and during holidays,
it was known to put on pageants and many popular shows. It also held
several large fairs during the year. Stratford was a exciting place to
live. Stratford also had fields and woods surrounding it giving William
the opportunity to hunt and trap small game. The River Avon which
ran through the town allowed him to fish also. Shakespeare’s’ poems
and plays show his love of nature and rural life which reflects his
On November 28, 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway of
the neighboring village of Shottery. She was twenty-six, and he was
only eighteen at the time. They had three children. Susana was their
first and then they had twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet,
Shakespeare’s son, died in 1596. In 1607, his daughter Susana got
married. Shakespeare’s other daughter, Judith, got married in 1616.
In London, Shakespeare’s career took off. It is believed that he
may have become well known in London theatrical life by 1592. By
that time, he had joined one of the city’s repertory theater companies.
These companies were made up of a permanent cast of actors who
presented different plays week after week. The companies were
commercial organizations that depended on admission from their
audience. Scholars know that Shakespeare belonged to one of the most
popular acting companies in London called The Lord Chamberlain’s
Men. Shakespeare was a leading member of the group from 1594 for
the rest of his career. By 1594, at least six of Shakespeare’s plays had
During Shakespeare’s life, there were two monarchs who ruled
England. They were Henry the eighth and Elizabeth the first. Both
were impressed with Shakespeare which made his name known. There
is evidence that he was a member of a traveling theater group, and a
schoolmaster. In 1594, he became an actor and playwright for Lord
Chamberlain’s Men. In 1599, he became a part owner of the
prosperous Globe Theater. He also was a part owner of the Blackfriars
Theater as of 1609. Shakespeare retired to Stratford in 1613 where he
wrote many of his excellent plays.
There are many reasons as to why William Shakespeare is so
famous. He is generally considered to be both the greatest dramatist
the world has ever known as well as the finest poet who has written in
the English language. Many reasons can be given for Shakespeare’s
enormous appeal. His fame basically is from his great understanding of
human nature. He was able to find universal human qualities and put
them in a dramatic situation creating characters that are timeless. Yet
he had the ability to create characters that are highly individual human
beings. Their struggles in life are universal. Sometimes they are
successful and sometimes their lives are full of pain, suffering, and
In addition to his understanding and realistic view of human
nature, Shakespeare had a vast knowledge of a variety of subjects.
These subjects include music, law, Bible, stage, art, politics, history,
hunting, and sports. Shakespeare had a tremendous influence on
culture and literature throughout the world. He contributed greatly to
the development of the English language. Many words and phrases
from Shakespeare’s plays and poems have become part of our speech.
Shakespeare’s plays and poems have become a required part of
education in the United States. Therefore, his ideas on subjects such as
romantic love, heroism, comedy, and tragedy have helped shape the
attitudes of millions of people. His portrayal of historical figures and
events have influenced our thinking more than what has been written in
history books. The world has admired and respected many great
writers, but only Shakespeare has generated such enormous continuing
interest. My source states explanations rather than opinions on why
Shakespeare’s contributions to literature are so vast. My source
devoted thirty pages to William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s plays are usually divided into three major
categories. These are comedy, tragedy, and history. Three plays which
are in the category of comedy are “The Comedy of Errors”, “The
Taming of the Shrew”, and “The Two Gentlemen of Verone”. Three
plays which are in the category of tragedy are “Romeo and Juliet”,
“Titus Andronicus”, and “Julius Caesar”. In the category of history,
three plays are “Henry V”, “Richard II”, and “Richard III”.