PLACE AND MEANS FOR EVERY MAN ALIVE", SAYS SHAKESPEARE.
everybody. Let me introduce myself. My name is William
Shakesperare but people used to call me Will. I was born
on April 23, 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
When I was eighteen, I married
Anne Hathaway, who was older than me, 26. We had three
children, our older daughter Susanna and the twins Judith
and Hamnet, who died when he was only a child.
most of my working life in
where I established myself by the early 1590s. I enjoyed
success not only as a playwright, but as a professional
actor and shareholder in an acting company.
Sometime between 1610
and 1613, I retired from the stage and returned home to
. I died
on April 23, 1616 in my hometown.
Rewriting Shakespeare's Biography.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT
I LOOKED LIKE?
In fact, nobody ever took me a picture. Nobody knows
what I looked like! Painters and drawers did their best
after my death but there is no painting which is a true
likeness of me. Would you like to see what my face was
supposed to be? Click
here and find out! There are many
other pictures based on the first ones.
was a great time in English history. The reign of
- 1603) saw England emerge as the leading naval and
commercial power of the Western world. Elizabeth I's
England consolidated its position with the defeat of the
Spanish Armada in 1588, and firmly established the
Church of England (begun by her father,
after a dispute with the Pope).
this time, London was the heart of England, reflecting
all the vibrant qualities of the Elizabethan Age. It was
in this atmosphere that London became a leading center
of culture as well as commerce. Its dramatists and poets
were among the leading literary artists of the day; this
is the environment in which I lived and wrote. London in
the 16th century underwent a transformation. Its
population grew 400% from 1500 to 1600, swelling to
nearly two hundred thousand people in the city proper
and outlying region by the time an immigrant from
Stratford came to town. A rising merchant middle class
was carving out a productive livelihood, and the economy
And as all's well
that ends well, click here to watch the
timeline of my life.
SOME FIGURES ABOUT MY WORK
about 38 plays, 154 sonnets
and 5 poems.
complete works consist of 884,647
play is Hamlet ( 4,042 lines ) and my
shortest play is The Comedy of Errors ( 1,787
about 500 new words including schoolboy,
rival, never-ending and
been said that my plays are still being performed on
stages all over the world. People claim that I was a
genious with a sharp knowledge of the human mind and
heart. I cannot tell you why I became a playwright but I
can say writing plays was like breathing fresh air for me;
I couldn't live away from theatres. If you, dear reader,
want to know about my life, my time and work , then stand
your pace and be ready to listen."
Dear reader, imagine you
the England of my time. On the banks of the
is the Globe Theatre,
the wooden building where most of my plays were
performed. You can see Queen Elizabeth I among
the spectators. For a penny you can stand in the
open courtyard with other groundlings -who are
famously rude and noisy- and see the play (
watch out for picpockets!)
For an additional
penny you can sit
people in one of the covered galleries.
Following the common practice of
day, my plays were originally
performed solely by male actors; boys played
the female parts. There was no curtain, and
only a few necessary pieces of scenery, such
as a throne or a rock.
My acting company,
known first as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and
later as the
King’s Men, put on plays in
of places—from the courts of
Queen Elizabeth I and King James I to churches
and guildhalls in the countryside.
is an idle and most false
imposition; oft got without merit,
and lost without deserving".
The company most frequently
in its own theaters. The original theater in which the
Lord Chamberlain’s Men staged our plays was
known simply as The Theatre; it is believed to
have been the first London playhouse. From
1599 onward, the company performed in the
outdoor theater most associated with my name,
the Globe. Later, we also staged plays at a
private indoor theater, the Blackfriars, while
continuing to operate the Globe.
FACTS ABOUT THE THEATRE
You had to pay one penny to get
into outdoor theatres like the
Globe and another one if you
wanted to sit in the balconies.
How did men cover
up their beards
they played women’s roles
Shakespeare’s theatre? Usually
played women's parts on stage, so
there was no problem about beards.
men probably played female roles
from time-to-time, such as comic
that case, they would probably
shave off any beard.
Make yourself at home!
It’s time to open the
doors of the playhouses and attend some of my
The Winter's Tale
A "winter's tale" is a story to
be told or read in front of a fire on a long
winter's night. Paradoxically, this Winter's
Tale is ideally seen rather than read. The
tale that the play tells, like that promised
by Mamillius, is indeed of "sprites and
goblins"—of ferocious and murderous passions,
of man-eating bears, of princes and princesses
in disguise, of death by drowning and by
grief, of Greek oracles, of betrayal, and of
unexpected joy. And the play draws much of its
power from its heavy dependence on Greek myths
of loss and of transformation.
Hamlet is the most popular of my
plays for readers and theater audiences.
Superficially, it follows the well-worn path
of a “revenge tragedy.” This popular type of
play centered on a heroic figure—in this
case, Hamlet, prince of Denmark—and his
quest for vengeance against his father’s
murderer—here, Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, now
the king of Denmark in his dead brother’s
Romeo and Juliet
this play I create a world of violence and
generational conflict in which two young
people fall in love and die because of
A Midsummer Night's Dream
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, one
most popular plays, I stage the workings
of love in ways that have fascinated
generations of playgoers and readers. The
play confronts us with mysterious images
of romantic desire. There are Theseus and
Hippolyta, about to be married; both are
strange and wonderful figures from
classical mythology. Theseus is a great
warrior, a kinsman of Hercules; she is an
Amazon, a warrior-woman, defeated in
battle by Theseus.
In 1603, at about the middle of
my career as a playwright, a new monarch
ascended the throne of England. He was
James VI of Scotland, who then also became
James I of England. Immediately,
London was alive with an interest
in things Scottish. Many Scots followed
their king to London and attended the
theaters here. My company, which became
the King’s Men under James’s patronage,
now sometimes staged our plays for the new
monarch’s entertainment, just as we had
for Queen Elizabeth before him.
The Tempest I put romance on
stage. I give you a magician, a monster, a
grief-stricken king, a wise old
councillor, and no fewer than two
beautiful princesses (one of whom you only
hear about) and two treacherous brothers.