William Shakespeare was surely the world’s most performed and admired playwright. He was well known in his time, and like many artists his fame continues to grow after his death. His plays dealt with many controversial topics, from racism to witchcraft- perhaps adding to the appeal of his plays in general. Shakespeare led an amazing life for his time, a time when actors and actresses were looked down upon and discriminated. He helped to change this stereotype and altered the world perception of theatre forever. In this report, I will outline many areas of Shakespeare’s life, including His birth, marriage and children, parents and family, education, as well as his death.
William Shakespeare the famous playwright was born in April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, about 100 miles northwest of London. According to the records of Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church, he was baptized on April 26. It was customary to baptize infants within days of birth, and because Shakespeare died 52 years later on April 23, and-most significantly-since April 23 is St. George’s day, the patron saint of England, it has become traditional to assign the birth day of England’s most famous poet to April 23. As with most sixteenth century births, the actual day was never officially recorded, but along with most remarkable men the power of myth and symmetry has proven irresistible, so April 23 it has become.
Shakespeare’s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare, who lived in Henley Street, in Stratford. John, the son of Richard Shakespeare, was a whittawer (a maker, worker, and seller of leather goods such as purses, belts and gloves) and a dealer in agricultural commodities. He was a solid, middle class citizen at the time of William’s birth, and a man on the rise. He served in Stratford government successively as a member of the Council (1557), constable (1558), chamberlain (1561), alderman (1565), and finally high bailiff (1568)–the equivalent of town mayor. About 1577 John Shakespeare’s fortunes began to decline for unknown reasons. There are records of some debts he may have had, but of course, none can be verified for certain. In 1586 he was replaced as alderman for shirking responsibilities, and in 1592 was reprimanded for not coming to church for fear of process of debt.
Records for the Stratford grammar school from the time Shakespeare would have attended have been lost, but attend he undoubtedly did since the school was built and maintained expressly for the purpose of educating the sons of prominent citizens.