William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, the United Kingdom in April 1564. He was a son of the middle-class parents, John and Mary Shakespeare. They lived in a small town of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, Shakespeare was the first surviving son, for two earlier children, Joan and Margaret, who died in childhood. His early life was spent at two locations; Stratford, his native town, and London, the hub of English theatre. His father passed away in 1601 at the age of 70, while around seven years later his mother, too, breathed her last in 1608.
Starting his early education at the age of seven at the Stratford Grammar School, William Shakespeare underwent rigors of learning grammar and literature which received special focus at school. He also learned basic manners and prayers in a theological setting besides traditional subjects of rhetoric, logic, history, Latin and the works of great classical authors. Unfortunately, the financial crisis forced him to quit his education. In spite of the challenges, Shakespeare retained his reading addiction and theatrical interests.
Shakespeare married Anny Hathaway at eighteen in 1582. It is, however, interesting that Anny was seven years senior and pregnant at the time of their marriage. Therefore, they had to welcome Susanna, their first child very soon. After a few years, they welcome twins. Sadly, one of the twins died at eleven. Due to severe poverty Shakespeare decided to go to London. He wanted to try his luck in theatrical companies as an actor. Despite his talent in acting, he succeeded in making a name as a writer.
It is said that Shakespeare always had a sound mind and perfect health. However, he lost his life on 25th April 1616. The actual cause of his demise is unknown. However, he wrote a will almost a month before his death in which he described himself as a perfect man.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- He is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in his home town of Stratford, Warwickshire.
- In 1585, Shakespeare disappeared for almost seven years, and historians call this period of life as “the lost years.”
- When in 1952 he emerged as an actor and a playwright, he received the title of “upstart crow” from Robert Greene.
- Shakespeare is credited by the Oxford English Dictionary to have introduced almost 3,000 words in the English language.
- He wrote 37 plays and more than 150 sonnets and other poems.
Though Shakespeare left school at the age of fourteen forced by the financial crisis, he was sufficiently educated. Hence, he earned a good name in acting and writing. He moved to London where he established his career as an actor and writer. He wrote his first play, Henry-VI Part-I, in 1590 and Henry-VI Part-III and IV in 1591. He won unprecedented popularity due to his outstanding literary out. Despite this, in 1592, Robert Greene’s Groatworth of Wit famously calls Shakespeare an ”upstart crow,” a negatively discouraging term. According to Robert Greene, Shakespeare was not capable enough to produce the finest pieces. He believed that Shakespeare borrowed ideas from others. His accusation, however, did not impact his writings. He continued producing masterpieces after masterpieces until his death. In 1593, he started working on his 124 sonnet collection. Despite facing criticism patiently, he never let himself derailed from the literary path. He established himself as an excellent poet and a great playwright with masterpieces such as The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, Othello, Venus and Adonis’, The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet to his credit.
Shakespeare established his career as an actor first and then as a playwright. Shakespeare stepped into the world of literature and theatre, leaving lasting impressions. He became popular due to his traditional writing style in the early part of his career. First, he strictly followed iambic pentameter in his blank verse plays, but gradually he moved toward more conventional practices, adopting his own distinctly personal style in writing based on minute observation of human life and nature. It is stated that he added almost 1700 new words to English vocabulary during the depiction of the university of human nature and experience. The recurring themes of most of his poems and plays are love, death, betrayal, and jealousy. Regarding literary devices, he often used extended metaphors, heavy diction, conceits and soliloquies to create a unique style in his plays and poems.
William Shakespeare’s Works
Best Plays: William Shakespeare has tried his hands in both plays as well as poetry. Some of his best plays include; The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Othello, King Lear, Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Hamlet.
Best Poems: Some of the best poems he has written includes; “The Rape of Lucrece”, “The Phoenix and the Turtle”, “Sonnet 20”, “Sonnet 1”, “Sonnet 73”, “Venus and Adonis”, “Sonnet 29”, “Sonnet 130”, “Sonnet 116” and “Sonnet 18.”
William Shakespeare’s Impacts on Future Literature
His pen brought revolutionary changes to the world of literature. Even today, researchers tend to investigate how his works evolved social, political and theatrical settings. He not only wrote plays and poetry but also managed to leave a permanent mark on how we live and speak in contemporary culture. His writings are still subject to interpretation and translation in various languages. His writing style influenced a large number of renowned writers such as Charles Dickens, Maya Angelou, John Keats, and Herman Melville. Various writers and poets use his style as a guiding model for writing plays and poetry. Also, genres of tragedy, comedy, and tragi-comedy owe a great deal to Shakespeare for popularity and universal recognition.
William Shakespeare’s Famous Quotes
- “To be, or not to be: that is the question”.Hamlet (Act III, Scene I).
- “This above all: to thine own self be true”. Hamlet (Act I, Scene III).
- “But, for my own part, it was Greek to me”. Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene II).
- “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry”. Hamlet (Act I, Scene III).
- “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”. Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene II).