William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He is one of the world's most highly esteemed writers, and is thought to be the most quoted author in history, second only to the Bible. His plays and poems have been studied, analyzed, read, and loved for centuries.
Little is known about William Shakespeare's childhood or education, but scholars agree that he likely attended the King's New School. He was working as an actor and playwright in London by the year 1592, and was also a managing partner in the acting company the Lord Chamberlain's Men. After James I was crowned king in 1603, the theater company's name was changed to the King's Men, and it grew to be quite popular.
Shakespeare was a prolific poet. His first and second published poems were "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece", which debuted in 1593 and 1594, respectively. Each work was dedicated by Shakespeare to his friend Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets were published in 1609 in a collection entitled The Sonnets of Shakespeare. These poems follow what is now called the Shakespearean form, which consists of three quatrains and a couplet. The subjects of Shakespeare's poetry range from love and beauty to commentary about the passing of time and changes in society.
The poems of Shakespeare literally revolutionized the English language, as his sonnets contained many words that were unknown in his time but are very commonly used today. The Oxford English Dictionary credits Shakespeare will inventing words including birthplace, dewdrop, leapfrog, misquote, radiance, schoolboy, stillborn, zany, courtship, downstairs, fanged, bloodsucking, arch-villain, watchdog, and pageantry.
William Shakespeare's poems are legendary, as are his dramas. His comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances include famed plays such as The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, and Henry VI. While some of his plays were published after his death, during his lifetime Shakespeare gained great recognition for his works and he founded acting troupes to bring his writing to the masses.
He found such great financial success as a poet, author, playwright, and actor that William Shakespeare was able to buy what was then the second largest home in Stratford for his family, which he called New House. By the year 1599, Shakespeare and his colleagues built a theater of their own along the Thames River called The Globe. Eventually, Shakespeare got into real estate and expanded his fortune even more, which is what is believed to have allowed him the time to create his plays and poetry without worry about supporting his family.
Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52 in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. The city is now a popular travel destination, and millions each year visit to see William Shakespeare's birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Theater. In the centuries since his death, the world has come to know his art, poetry, writings, plays, and life. He is one of the few poets whose work has truly been able to endure the test of time.