Had you realised that no biography was written of Shakespeare during his
life. Hence, today, little can be factually supported of what we believe to
be the events of the life of William Shakespeare, and much debate continues.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) was born at Stratford-upon-Avon,
Warwickshire, England, in a house in Henley Street.
This house is preserved intact.
His mother, Mary Arden, was one of the daughters of Robert Arden, a
yeoman farmer of Wilmcote: his father, John Shakespeare, was a glover and
wool dealer of good standing who held the office of Bailiff of the Borough
From the age of seven to about 14, he attended Stratford Grammar School
receiving a well rounded education.
At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who was seven years his senior
and three months pregnant. Her family owned a farm one mile west of
Stratford in Shottery.
We surmise that he did not have a particularly happy marriage because he
moved alone to London to become an actor. At various times during his life
we know that he returned home on visits to his wife and children.
He then became actor-manager and part-owner in the Blackfriars and
afterwards the Globe Theatres.
Apparently Shakespeare was a first-rate actor, but it is as a writer of
plays that he has achieved lasting world-wide fame. His plays are thought to
be the finest ever written in any language. His 38 plays vary in type;
historical romances, light, fantastic comedies, some are tragedies, all
including the comical and the farcical. He was a shrewd business man,
amassing quite a fortune in his time. He returned to Stratford for his later
years where he died at the age of 52 and now lies at rest in his special
grave at Holy Trinity Church.
Special pageants are held at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, where
Shakespeare was born and where thousands of tourists go each year to see his
The bells of Holy Trinity Church ring out and the Mayor of Stratford
leads a procession there to lay flowers on Shakespeare's grave. The
procession includes bands, civic dignitaries, costumed actors and actresses,
Morris dancers, and the staff and pupils of some local schools.
In some schools, regular lessons are set aside for students to
learn about the great playwright and poet, and his sonnets, narrative poems
Enthusiasts and fans, including the British Shakespeare Company,
have campaigned for Parliament in the United Kingdom to officially recognize
national Shakespeare Day.
The Theatre in Shakespeare's Day
Going to the theatre in Shakespeare's day was a completely different
experience than it is today.
The Globe was typical of those theatres, with a majority of the audience
standing in the open air in front of the stage. If it rained, most of the
audience would get wet.
They were not a quiet bunch but a riotous crowd who could purchase food
and drink from strolling vendors during the course of the performance.
If the performance failed to please, they would talk, jeer, catcall or
For twice the price of admission the middle class could sit in seats with
a roof over their head in curved tiers around the inside of the building.
The very important or rich could sit in a position directly above the
stage or even on stools on stage.
To be, or not to be: that is the question. - Hamlet (Act III, Scene
Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself
and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. - Hamlet (Act I,
This above all: to thine own self be true. - Hamlet (Act I, Scene
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury
Caesar, not to praise him. - (Act III, Scene II).
But, for my own part, it was Greek to me. - (Act I, Scene II).
The course of true love never did run smooth". - (Act I, Scene I).
His prolific works include 38 plays and 154 sonnets, in which he
introduced over 1700 words to the English language.
Many common English expressions: bated breath, foul play, naked truth,
are derived from his tragic and comic works.
With such a pervasive influence on language, literature and culture, is
it any wonder that there is lobbying in England for an official National
legend of Saint George slaying a dragon, St George was a real person. Historical records show that his father was a career soldier in the Roman army, while his mother was from Lydda (Lod) Israel. What is strange is that
Saint George never actually set foot in England; he spent his life in what today we call Turkey and the Middle East.
As with many saints, it is Saint George's death on 23rd April in 303 AD that cements his anniversary in the calendar. Indeed, it was his gruesome death in Palestine, that was instrumental in the
Catholic Church declaring St George an illustrious and Great Martyr. The precise date of St George's birth is not recorded, but it was believed to be in 275 AD, thus he lived for only 28 years.
For those who do observe this most English day, the most tasteful emblem to announce this
day to one and all, is a single red rose. The other place you see the red rose emblem is on the shirts of the England rugby team.
See more St George's Day English jokes.
See more Saints Days and other special days in
• Australia Day •
Groundhog Day •
Shrove Tue •
Special Days •
St David's Day •
Charles Dickens •
St George's Day •
Cherry blossom day •
May Day •
Special day today •
St Patrick's Day •