What do you know about William Shakespeare?"?


William Shakespeare

How much do you know about Shakespeare?
What do you know about William Shakespeare? While not every detail of the Bard’s life is a known fact, we do have a great deal of information about his life. The following are some frequently asked questions, with information provided courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

When and where was Shakespeare born?
According to the church records, Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, on April 26, 1564. His father, John Shakespeare, was an affluent glove-maker, tanner and wool dealer, who owned property in Stratford, though he was struck with financial difficulties around 1576. His mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a prosperous farmer. In the 1500s, Stratford was a market town of about 200 households. Famous for its fairs, Stratford was two days from London on horseback.

How many children did Shakespeare have, and what were their names?
William Shakespeare and his wife, Anne Hathaway, had three children — Susanna baptized on May 26, 1583, and twins, Judith and Hamnet, baptized on February 2, 1585.  Hamnet contracted black plague and died in August 1596.



Queen Elizabeth

Was Shakespeare famous in his own lifetime?
During his lifetime, Shakespeare provoked the envy and admiration of fellow writers, as we know from their surviving comments in print. The First Folio, an unprecedented collection of a playwright’s work, is the best illustration of the high regard held for Shakespeare in literary circles. The statue his family erected to his memory in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, also demonstrates his status as a prosperous man of property as well as a famous poet.

What was Shakespeare’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth?
Elizabeth I was an active and generous patron of the theater. She had her own acting company called the “Queen’s Men,” and stood against the Puritans who wished to close down the theaters. Without her support, the Elizabethan theaters would not have survived. In the 1590s, court performances by acting companies became popular, and Shakespeare’s company was selected to perform more than any other.

When did Shakespeare die, from what did he die, and where was he buried?
Shakespeare’s burial is recorded in Stratford’s parish register as having taken place on April 25, 1616. His monument, inside Stratford’s parish church, indicates that he died on April 23. We do not know the cause of Shakespeare’s death. He made his will on March 25, almost a month before he died, and in it describes himself as ‘in perfect health & memories, god be prayed.’ However, this was a conventional phrase and does not necessarily mean he was not already experiencing symptoms of an illness which later proved fatal. Moreover, his will of March 25 is, apparently, a re-drafting of one made the January before, suggesting he may have been ill over an even longer period. What his illness was may never be known.

(Reprinted from McCarter Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Audience Resource Guide)