A Playwright for the Ages
William Shakespeare lived for 52 years. In that time, he produced approximately 40 plays that we know of, as well as his famous Sonnets and other poems, which together form the greatest, most compelling body of work in the English language. Shakespeare’s works have been translated into every major language, and his plays continue to be performed around the world.
Born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, he married at the age of 18 and had three children, one of whom died in 1596. Between 1583 and 1592, Shakespeare dropped out of sight, and speculation about his activities during this time is rife as people seek to explain the background to his genius.
In 1594, Shakespeare appears in the records of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, working as an actor and author of plays at the Rose and the Curtain Theatre. In 1599, the company moved to the newly built Globe. By 1603, they had acquired royal patronage and became the King’s Men on the accession of King James I. Shakespeare is believed to have produced much of his work between the late 1580s and 1613, when he retired to Stratford, where he lived until his death in 1616. The precise chronology of his plays is unknown, although there is an accepted order and approximate timescale.
Of his life, very little is known. His legacy is his enthralling stories, memorable characters, and beautiful, evocative language. As Samuel Johnson wrote: “His works may be considered a Map of Life.”
Chronology of the Plays
The Two Gentleman of Verona
Love’s Labour’s Lost
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Troilus and Cressida
Timon of Athens