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William Shakespeare

English poet and dramatist

1564 - 1616

Shakespeare is considered to be the greatest English dramatist of all time. His work influenced generations of later artists.

We know little about Shakespeare's early years. His father, John Shakespeare, was a merchant and a man of some importance in his local community. His mother, Mary Arden, was of higher social class. Although there are no records, it seems that Shakespeare attended the local grammar school at Stratford-upon-Avon, where he was born.

In 1582 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than he was. They had three children. In 1594, Shakespeare became a leading member of the newly-formed acting company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This company became the King's Men when James I was made king. Shakespeare stayed with them for the rest of his career.

In 1599 the company occupied the now famous Globe theatre in London. Shakespeare lived and worked in London, while his family remained in Stratford.

Shakespeare's plays are still performed more often than those of any other playwright. Film versions appear frequently.

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