William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, he was the son of
John Shakespeare, an alderman and glove-maker, and Mary Arden, a woman from a wealthy family. Likely educated at the King’s
New School, he would have studied Latin in his youth. At eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, then twenty-six. Together, they
raised three children—Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith. By 1892, several of his early plays had appeared on stage in London.
These works, including Richard III and Henry VI, show the influence of Elizabethan dramatists Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe.
He then found success with a series of comedies, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It,
and Twelfth Night. By the late 1590s, Shakespeare wrote two of his finest tragedies, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar, proving
his talent and thematic versatility. The beginning of the 17th century marked a turn in his work, ushering in an era often
considered his darkest and most productive. Between 1600 and 1606, he produced such masterpieces as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth,
and King Lear, all of which are undoubtedly some of the finest works ever written in the English language. In addition to
his 39 plays, many of which were performed by his own company at the legendary Globe Theatre, Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets
and three long poems, many of which continue to be read around the world.