The Cobbe portrait

Who Is Shakespeare?

NoSweatShakespeare is a website dedicated to Shakespeare, and from time to time we get people asking us “who is Shakespeare?” So, this blog post is dedicated to answering that question (or read our full Shakespeare biography)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was a Renaissance writer who can be classified both as an Elizabethan and a Jacobean writer, as his writing life spanned the reigns of both Elizabeth I and James I. By the last years of Elizabeth I’s reign Shakespeare was well established as a famous poet and playwright, one of the most respected man in theatre.

Shakespeare is most famous for writing many, varied plays. There are 38 surviving plays, some penned by him alone, and some in collaboration with other playwrights. Alongside his plays Shakespeare also wrote, the most famous of which are a cycle of sonnets, some of them instantly recognisable  by their first line, such as ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ and ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.’

The Chandos portrait

Who is Shakespeare?

Shakespeare grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, the son of a glove maker, where he went to the local grammar school. When he was 18 he courted a woman, Ann Hathaway, 8 years older than him. She became pregnant and he married her in 1582. They had 2 daughters, Judith and Susanna, and a son, Hamnet, who died aged eleven. During his professional career Shakespeare commuted between London where he worked, and Stratford where his family lived.

While Shakespeare was writing plays he was also very active in the commercial side of theatre, and he had a share in the business of probably the most famous theatre in history, The Globe Theatre, London. The company built several theatres around London. It was a good investment as it made him rich, able to retire to the country aged forty-seven, and buy one of the biggest houses in Stratford upon Avon.

On Shakespeare’s death on 23 April 1616 at the age of 52 he was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

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