William Shakespeare - The plays,Shakespeares great tragedies

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare was born 23rd of April 1564, the same day as the day of his death, 52 years later - at Stratford on Avon, a small town in Warwickshire, in the heart of England.

His father, John Shakespeare, was a glover, a wooddealer and perhaps a butcher.

About 1565 John Shakespeare was elected to various public offices.

His mother, Mary Arden, was born into a farmers' family residing in Warwickshire as well. Her people were better off than her husband's.

William Shakespeare led the life of an ordinary country boy.

He attended the free Latin grammar school of his native town until the age of 14. There, as he was customary at that time, he was tough the classical languages and became familiar with the great Latin writers. Shakespeare's first poems "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece" evince his classical learning.

At the age of 18 (in 1582) William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, 8 years his senior. His wife was the daughter of a farmer in a village near by. They had 3 children: Susanna, the eldest and the twins Hamnet and Judith.

We find Shakespeare in London 1586. He went to the Capital to try his fortune there.

The story goes that in London he started earning his living by tending the horses of the gentlemen who came riding to the playhouse.

a horse keeper

a stage boy

a prompter

a play mender

an actor

a playwright

By the turn of the century Shakespeare was a prosperous man so that he had money to spare to pay his father debts and to buy a coat of arms for him. In 1600 Shakespeare bought the largest house in Stratford known as New place.

He died on the 23rd of April 1616 and was buried in the chancel of  his parish church at Stratford. No name was engrave on tombstone butfor the lines which as the tradition goes he himself had prepared before his death. They warn the passers-by not to dig his bones. By 1623, a monument was setup on the wall above the grave.

Shakespeare's heritage consists of 2 long poems, a sequence of 154 sonnets and 37 plays. His activities as a poet and playwright covers over 24 years.

The first creative period

"Venus and Adonis"

"The Rape of Lucrece"


The plays:

"Henry VI" in 3 parts (1590-1591)

"Richard III"

"The Taming of the Shrew" (1592)

"The Comedy of Errors"

"The Two Gentleman of Verona"

"Love's Labour's Lost"

"Romeo and Juliet"

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

"Richard II"

"King John"

"The Merchant of Venice"

"Henry IV" in 2 parts

"Much Ado about Nothing"

"Henry V"

"The Merry Wives of Windsor"

"As You Like It"

"Julius Caesar" (a roman play)

"Twelfth Night"

The second creative period

Shakespeare's great tragedies



"King Lear"


"Timon of Athens"

The Roman plays:

"Antony and Cleopatra"



"All's Well That Ends Well"

"Troilus and Cressida"

"Measure for Measure"

The third creative period

"Cymbeline" (1609)

"The Winter's Tale"

"The Tempest"

To this period also belongs:

"Pericles, Prince of Tyre"

"Henry VII"

but their authorship is doubtful.