William Shakspeare

Research Task by Chloe Maunder

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon. During his life, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets.
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Earlier Years

Shakespeare was the 3rd born to John Shakespeare( a glove-maker who also held a number of public offices over a twenty year period) and Mary Shakespeare (she lived between 1540-1608 and came from a wealthy family) and was brought up in Stratford- upon- Avon.

Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the Kings new school in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553. He had a total of seven brothers and sisters, and he was the oldest surviving son. Due to culture and ways of his time, scholars presume that Shakespeare stopped attending school at the age of 15. His education included intense emphasis on Latin grammar and classic literature.

At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway with whom he had three children: Susanna , and twins Hamnet and Judith.


At some point in the late 1580s, Shakespeare made the four-day ride to London, and by 1592 had established himself as a writer.

In 1594 came the event that changed the course of literary history – Shakespeare joined Richard Burbage’s acting company and became its chief playwright for the next two decades. Here, Shakespeare was able to hone his craft, writing for a regular group of performers.

Shakespeare also worked as an actor in the theatre company although the lead roles were always reserved for Burbage himself.

The company became very successful and often performed in front of the Queen of England, Elizabeth I. In 1603, James I ascended the throne and granted his royal patronage to Shakespeare’s company, which became known as The King’s Men.

Top 5 Greatest Shakespeare Plays

1. Hamlet

2. Romeo and Juliet

3. Henry V

4. Midsummer Night’s Dream

5. Macbeth

The passing of William Shakespeare

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was survived by his wife and two daughters. In his will, Shakespeare left the bulk of his large estate to his elder daughter Susanna. The terms instructed that she pass it down intact to "the first son of her body". Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church two days after his death. The epitaph carved into the stone slab covering his grave includes a curse against moving his bones, which was carefully avoided during restoration of the church in 2008.


Joan Shakespeare (B.1558 D.1558)

Margaret Shakespeare (1562 - 1563)

Gilbert Shakespeare (1566 - 1612)

Anne Shakespeare (1571 - 1579)

Richard Shakespeare (1574 - 1613)

Edmund Shakespeare (1581 - 1607)

Elizabethan Costumes

The Elizabethan Era was a period in English history dominated by the Class structure. People who lived in the Elizabethan era were not allowed to wear whatever they liked! It did not matter how wealthy they were - the fabric, and even the of their clothes were dictated by their rank, status or position and these strict rules were enforced by English Law. These laws about clothing in the Elizabethan era were called Sumptuary Laws.

They were designed to limit the expenditure of people on clothes - and of course to maintain the social structure of the Elizabethan Class system. So it was illegal to wear various items of clothing - disastrous for clothing actors in appropriate costumes.

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The Role of women in shakespeare times

Despite the fact that a single woman ruled England at the time of William Shakespeare, the Elizabethan society was patriarchal. Overall, women were expected to marry. Most marriages were arranged in order to ensure financial stability or gain through the dowries and alliances between families. Women were also expected to have children. Wealthy women, in particular, were expected to produce a male heir, as all inheritance was passed through male lineage and female relatives were not permitted to inherit land or titles. As head of the household, the husband was allowed to chastise his wife, and often women were not allowed to inherit property.

Wealthy women were fairly well educated. Women were permitted to seek an education in Elizabethan times, though they were not allowed to enter any type of profession but those of a domestic nature. Women and girls also were permitted to indulge in artistic endeavours such as painting or literature. Women from poorer families seldom sought educations, however, due to financial constraints and familial obligations.


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