(* 23 April 1564 (?); ≈ 26 April 1564; † 23 April 1616)
William Shakespeare, possibly the greatest English writer of all time, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon to Mary and John Shakespeare. His date of birth is debatable but as he was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, 23 April 1564 is considered to be his birthday, making it at the same time easy to memorize as he also died on 23 April, in 1616.
At the age of 18, he married the pregnant Anne Hathaway and had three children with her: Susanna (born 1583), Hamnet and Judith (twins, born 1585). The years between the birth of his children and his first appearance as writer and actor in London in 1592 are called the ‘lost years’ since nothing is known about how Shakespeare spent those seven years.
In the London theatre scene, Shakespeare was a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company which performed most of his plays and became the leading acting company in London. Gaining the patronage of King James I in 1603, they were renamed the King’s Men. From 1599 onwards, the company staged a great deal of their pieces in the Globe Theatre on the southern bank of the Thames.
Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613. As no manuscripts have survived, some of his plays are only known today because they were published in the so-called First Folio in 1623. The surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of c. 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems: