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William Shakespeare

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Generally regarded as the world's great dramatist and one of the finest poets in the English language, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon in April, 1564. The exact date is uncertain. His father, John Shakespeare, was a prosperous glovemaker who became mayor when William was four years old. William was the third of eight children.

When Shakespeare was 13 or 14 years old, his father began having financial difficulties and his formal education probably ended at about this age. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a farmer in nearby Shottery. Anne was 26 at that time. His three children were born in 1583 and 1585. Nothing is known of his life between 1585 and 1592, when he reappears in London, by which date he was evidently well known as an actor and playwright. From 1594 to the end of his career, Shakespeare belonged to a group known first as the Lord Chamberlain's Men and later as the King's Men.

Shakespeare prospered. In 1598, he bought 10% of the stock of the Globe Theatre and 10 years later, 14% of the Blackfriars Theater. After 1612, he seems to have spent most of his time at Stratford. He died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616. His last descendant died in 1670.