Shakespeare is one of the most well-known icons of England and is considered by many to be the greater writer of the English language the world has ever known.
We know a lot about Shakespeare’s plays and other works, but not much is known about the early life and childhood of William Shakespeare. Take a look at some of the interesting facts about Shakespeare below:
- He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, an English city which is around 100 miles northwest of London.
- Nobody knows Shakespeare’s true birthday. Since there is very little information on his life outside of his work, his birthday is unknown. Based on church records, we know he was baptised on April 26, 1564 and through tradition and guesswork it is predicted that William was born three days earlier on April 23, 1564 – which is now celebrated as his birthday.
- Shakespeare invented over 1700 words. He created new words in a lot of ways, such as: changing nouns to verbs, changing verbs to adjectives, connected words that had never been used together, adding a suffix or prefix, and even creating completely new and original words. Some of the words he invented include: assassination, addiction, advertising, blanket, champion, elbow, gossip, generous, lonely, mimic, ode, puking, rant, secure, swagger, torture and zany.
- When he was 18, William married a woman 8 years older than him. Ann Hathaway was 26 when they married at Temple Grafton, a village approximately five miles (8 km) from Stratford.
- Shakespeare and his wife had 3 children. The eldest child was daughter Susanna, born in May, 1583. The twins, Hamnet and Judith, were born in January 1585 and were named after two close friends of William: the Stratford baker, Hamlet Sader and his wife, Judith.
- After Shakespeare’s twins were born, there was no records for several years. Historians refer to this time as the “lost years” with many different theories about what Shakespeare was doing during that time. Records eventually showed that they had moved to London where he was working in the theatre.
- He never signed his name as “William Shakespeare”. Only a few signatures of William’s have survived, but those that have show that Shakespeare spelled his name “Wilm Shaksp”, “William Shakespe”, “Wm Shakspe”, “William Shakspere”, “Willm Shakspere”, and “William Shakspeare” – but his signature never said “William Shakespeare”.
- Shakespeare is sometimes referred to as “The Bard”. The word “bard” means poet and he is called “The Bard” and “The Bard of Avon” because he is considered to be the greatest poet to have ever lived.
- He wrote his early plays for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. They became one of the most popular acting companies in London thanks to some of Shakespeare’s early work, including: The Taming of the Shrew, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- The theatre where plays were performed was shut down in 1597. It was called the “Theatre” and although it was owned by Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the land was owned by a man called Giles Allen. He decided to tear The Theatre down, locked it up and refused to let actors perform. Several members of the company dismantled the Theatre one night and moved the timber across the Thames River to create a new theatre called the Globe Theatre.
- The Globe Theatre burned down in 1613. It had become the place to be in London, seating over 3,000 people, and had a uniquely designed stage. It burned to the ground on June 29, 1613, after it was set on fire by a cannon shot during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII.
- He wrote 37 plays and composed 154 throughout his career. Many of his most successful plays were written in the last half of his career, including: Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, and King Lear.
- He is one of the most influential writers of the English language. In fact, Shakespeare’s works are the second most often quoted after the Bible.
- William Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday, on April 23, 1616. The cause of his death was never recorded and remains a mystery, with some speculating that it was the result of a fever.
William Shakespeare Biography
Date of Birth
baptized on April 26, 1564
(actual birth date unknown)
Date of Death
April 12, 1616
Place of Birth
John Shakespeare and Mary Arden
Susanna Hall, Hamnet Shakespeare
and Judith Quiney
King’s New School
English poet and playwright
Reason for Fame
Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s preeminent dramatist.
Shakespeare is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”