Skip Nav

William Shakespeare, his Life, Works and Influence

follow poets.org

❶This technique releases the new power and flexibility of the poetry in plays such as Julius Caesar and Hamlet. William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays that scholars know of, with most of them labeled is comedies, histories, or tragedies.

Navigation menu

Quotations
Life Before the Stage
Shakespeare’s Childhood and Family Life

Nearly all of Shakespeare's sonnets examine the inevitable decay of time, and the immortalization of beauty and love in poetry. In his poems and plays, Shakespeare invented thousands of words, often combining or contorting Latin, French, and native roots. His impressive expansion of the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary , includes such words as: Shakespeare wrote more than thirty plays. These are usually divided into four categories: His earliest plays were primarily comedies and histories such as Henry VI and The Comedy of Errors , but in , Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet , his second tragedy, and over the next dozen years he would return to the form, writing the plays for which he is now best known: Only eighteen of Shakespeare's plays were published separately in quarto editions during his lifetime; a complete collection of his works did not appear until the publication of the First Folio in , several years after his death.

Nonetheless, his contemporaries recognized Shakespeare's achievements. Francis Meres cited "honey-tongued" Shakespeare for his plays and poems in , and the Chamberlain's Men rose to become the leading dramatic company in London, installed as members of the royal household in Sometime after , Shakespeare retired from the stage and returned to his home in Stratford. He drew up his will in January of , which included his famous bequest to his wife of his "second best bed.

Texts about this Poet: Excerpts from Julius Caesar. Poems about the Heavenly Bodies. Six Poets, Six Questions: Ilya Kaminsky in Conversation. A Road near the Shepherd's Cottage.

Enter Autolycus , singing. King Lear, with the Fool, in a storm Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks! You sulphurous and thought-executing fires, Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head!

A wood near Athens. Over hill, over dale, Thorough bush, thorough brier, Over park, over pale, Thorough flood, thorough fire, I do wander every where, Swifter than the moon's sphere; And I serve the fairy queen, To dew her orbs upon the green: As a commoner, Shakespeare's education was thought to finish at the grammar school level as there is no record of him attending university, which was a luxury reserved for upper-class families.

In , an year-old Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who, on the occasion of her wedding, was 26 years old and already with child. Hathaway gave birth to the couple's first child six months later, a daughter named Susanna, with twins, named Hamnet and Judith, following two years later in Hamnet died at the age of 11 from unknown reasons.

After the birth of his twins in , Shakespeare disappeared from public record until , when his works began appearing on the London stage. These seven years are known as "Shakespeare's Lost Years," and have been the source of various stories that remain unverified, including a salacious story involving Shakespeare escaping Stratford prosecution for deer poaching. This story, among others, are solely entertainment and are not considered as part of the canon that makes up the playwright's personal life.

William Shakespeare first made his appearance on the London stage, where his plays would be written and performed, around , although the exact date is unknown. He was, however, well known enough to be attacked by critics in newspapers, and thus was considered to be already an established playwright. After the year , Shakespeare's plays were solely performed by a company owned by a group of actors known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which became London's leading company.

After Queen Elizabeth's death in , the company was given a royal patent that renamed it the King's Men, named so after King James I. Shakespeare, along with a group of players that acted in his play, created his own theatre on the River Thames in and named it the Globe Theatre. After that, a record of property purchases and investments made by Shakespeare showed the playwright had become a very wealthy man, so much so that he bought properties in London and Stratford for himself and his family, as he spent most of his time in London.

It was in that the first known quartos of Shakespeare's plays were published, solidifying his reputation by when his name became the selling point in new productions. This led to his success as both an actor on stage and a playwright, and his name was published on the title page of his plays. Shakespeare continued to work with his company of men at the Globe Theatre until around , the year that he retired from working on the stage.

He, however, continued to support the Globe Theatre, including buying apartments for playwrights and actors to live in, all of which were near to the theatre. Shakespeare retired from public life in , right after the bubonic plague began to subside its attack on London. This act was unusual for the time, but he was by no means less active.

In fact, the playwright continued to make frequent trips to London to collaborate with other playwrights, such as John Fletcher, and to spend time with his son-in-law John Hall, who married his elder daughter Susanna in The playwright was an active dramatist and writer up until when the last of his great works was finished.

From then on, Shakespeare spent most of his time in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he had purchased the second-largest home in town for his family. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. William Shakespeare died on April 23, , and was buried at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford two days later, with a curse written on his tombstone to ward off those who would disturb his bones.

He was 52 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife, Anna, and their two daughters. There are no direct descendants from Shakespeare's line, as both daughters had children who did not make it to adulthood. Shakespeare was noted both for poetry and plays, with both mediums serving different needs; the plays were related to the theatrical fashion that was on trend while his poetry served to provide storytelling in erotic or romantic ways, culminating in a canon of work that is as diverse in language as the issues of human nature that the works portray.

William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays that scholars know of, with most of them labeled is comedies, histories, or tragedies. The earliest play that is directly attributed to Shakespeare is the trilogy of "King Henry VI," with Richard III also being written around the same time, between and From histories written in the late s to the early s, Shakespeare moved into comedies, which were described as such for their comic sequences and pairs of plots that intertwined with each other.

Interestingly, two tragedies bookend Shakespeare's comedic era - Romeo and Juliet were written at the beginning of the s, and Julius Caesar was written at the end of the era. For the last portion of his writing career, Shakespeare focused his work on tragedies and "problem" plays. In this era, which is acknowledged as the playwright's best era, he wrote the works called Hamlet , Othello , King Lear , Coriolanus , and Macbeth , among others.

These are the works that are most in production today, both on stage and in film. When looking at a chronology of Shakespeare's plays, it is clear that Shakespeare changed the subjects of his plays as he grew in prominence and then returned to a more serene life.

FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Welcome to the Web's first edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. This site has offered Shakespeare's plays and poetry to the Internet community since For other Shakespeare resources, visit the Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet Web site. The original electronic source for this server was the Complete Moby(tm) .

Privacy FAQs

Shakespeare wrote at least 38 plays and over short and long poems, many of which are considered to be the finest ever written in English. His works have been translated into every major living.

About Our Ads

The Writing Style of William Shakespeare by Freelance Writing Some of the most famous lines in the history of literature come from the writings of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare, his Life, Works and Influence William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright who is considered one of the greatest writers to ever use the English language. He is also the most famous playwright in the world, with his plays being translated in over 50 languages and performed across the globe for audiences of all .

Cookie Info

Shakespeare's writing features extensive wordplay of double entendres and clever rhetorical flourishes. Humour is a key element in all of Shakespeare's plays. His works have been considered controversial through the centuries for . While William Shakespeare’s reputation is based primarily on his plays, he became famous first as a poet. With the partial exception of the Sonnets (), quarried since the early 19th century for autobiographical secrets allegedly encoded in them, the nondramatic writings have traditionally been pushed to the margins of the Shakespeare .