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 childhood. In London, Shakespeare’s career took off. It is
believed that he may have become well known in London theatrical life by 1592.

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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 been produced. 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 failure.