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William Shakespeare, The Bard Of Avon

According to tradition, William Shakespeare was born on the 23rd April 1564 and is known to have been baptised on the 26th April, 1564. He was an English actor, poet, and playwright, and is widely recognised as the greatest writer in the English language and as the world's greatest dramatist. He is referred to as the "Bard of Avon" and also as England's national poet.

His extant works, include some collaborations, and consist of approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems, and a few other verses, for which the authorship of some is not certain. His plays have been translated into all major languages. The plays are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway from the nearby village of Shottery on the 28th November when he was 18. They had three children, a daughter, Susanna, who was baptised on the 29th May 1583, and twins, a son Hamnet and another daughter, Judith, who were baptised on the 2nd February, 1585.

Between 1585 and 1592, he began what became a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a player's company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which later become known as the King's Men. In around 1613 he retired to Stratford at the age of 49, where he died 3 years later on the 23rd April, 1616.

Very few records of Shakespeare's private life can be found, and a great deal of speculation about his physical appearance, his religious beliefs, his sexuality, and if works attributed to him may have actually been written by another person or persons.

Shakespeare created most of his known works between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were chiefly comedies and histories, and these plays are widely regarded as some of the gretest works ever written in these genres. Then, until about 1608, he mainly wrote tragedies. These included Hamlet (15991601), Othello (16031604), King Lear(16051606), and Macbeth (1606), which are considered to be some of the finest works in the English language. Shakespeare wrote tragicomedies (also known as romances) in his final phase. It was during this time he collaborated with other playwrights.

During Shakespeare's lifetime many of his plays were published in editions of varying accuracy and quality. John Heminges and Henry Condell, both friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio in 1623. This was a collected edition of his dramatic works and included all but two of the plays now recognised as being Shakespeare's. Ben Jonson, in a poem that prefaced the folio, with considerable foresight hails Shakespeare as "not of an age, but for all time".

In this and the last century, Shakespeare's works have repeatedly been adapted and rediscovered by new movements in both performance and scholarship. Shakespeare's plays remain extremely popular, and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in a wide range of political and cultural contexts.

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