William Shakespeare

A Day in the Life

Early Life

William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of a prosperous landowning farmer. He was born in Stratford near Avon and baptized there on April 26, 1564. His actual birthdate remains unknown, but is traditionally celebrated on April 23, St George's Day. This date can be traced back to the 18th-century, it has been interesting to biographers, since Shakespeare died April 23, 1616. He was the third child of eight and the oldest surviving son. Although no attendance records for the period exist, most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the King's New School in Stratford, a free school licensed in 1553, about a quarter-mile from his home.

William gets Married!

At the age of 18, William Shakespeare married 26 year old Anne Hathaway. Church law at that time forbade marriage between Advent Sunday (December 2nd in 1582) and mid-January, and so on November 27th, a special marriage licence was obtained from the consistory court in Worcester. He is a teenage father, perhaps pressured into marrying his older wife, living with her in the cramped family home, without a job and unable now to go to university or take up an apprenticeship.


Jobs, Interests, and Hobbies

What to do?

When William could take a break from writing his plays, he would almost certainly have enjoyed going to the tavern and drinking with his friends. He might have enjoyed playing cards and games like chess, and backgammon, all of which were popular in Elizabethan time. He might have also enjoyed watching wrestling, which was a popular Elizabethan spectator sport. William may have enjoyed the more bloodthirsty spectator sports of Bear-baiting and Cockerel (Rooster) fighting.

Later Years & Will

In 1616, with his health declining, Shakespeare revised his will. Since his only son Hamnet had died in 1596, Shakespeare left the bulk of his estate to his two daughters, with monetary gifts set aside for his sister, theater partners, friends, and the poor of Stratford.

Death & Burial

When William Shakespeare died in his birthplace of Stratford-upon- Avon, he was buried in the Holy Trinity Church. William was recognized as one of the greatest English playwrights of his era. In the four centuries since, he has come to be seen as not only a great English playwright, but the greatest playwright in the English language.

7 Interesting Facts

  1. William's birth and death are on the same day.
  2. One of Shakespeare’s relatives on his mother’s side, William Arden, was arrested for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I, imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed.
  3. Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language – after the various writers of the Bible.

  4. The American President Abraham Lincoln was a lover of Shakespeare's plays and frequently recited from them to his friends. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a famous Shakespearean actor.

  5. All Uranus’ satellites are named after Shakespearean characters.

  6. Shakespeare’s original grave marker showed him holding a bag of grain. Citizens of Stratford replaced the bag with a quill in 1747.

  7. William was right-handed.