Biography:  William Shakespeare

Was born in April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, about 100 miles northwest of London.  

He died 52 years later on April 23, 1617.

PARENTS AND FAMILY:  Shakespeare's parents were John and Mary Shakespeare.

Mary had in all eight children with John Shakespeare.   William was the third child and the first son.

John was a whittawer: a maker, worker and seller of leather goods such as purses, belts and gloves.

He was a solid, middle class citizen at the time of William's birth, and a man on the rise.

About 1577 John Shakespeare's fortunes began to decline for unknown reasons.  There are records of debts.  In 1592 John was reprimanded for not coming to church for fear of being imprisoned for his debts. 

On November 28, 1582 William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.

Two years later, twins were born to them, Hamnet and Judith.

THEATER:  Shakespeare was well established in the London theater world by the end of 1592.

Shakespeare's chief rival among early Elizabethan playwrights was Christopher Marlowe.  Wrote Tamburlain plays, Dr. Faustus and The Jew of Malta.  Had Shakespeare died in the same year as Marlowe, his accomplishment would have been thought remarkable, but Marlowe would undoubtedly have been given the precedence as the better of the playwrights by subsequent critics.  Marlowe was murdered in 1593.

In January 1593 the theaters in London were closed on account of the plague.

From December 1592 until December 1593 10,675 plague deaths were reported in a city of approximately 200,000.  

They remained closed until spring 1594.

In December 1594, listed by the Treasurer of the Queen's Chamber along with Will Kemp and Richard Burbage, the great clown and tragedian of the company.  They were known as the Lord Chamberlain's men. 

The years 1594-1599 were momentous for Shakespeare. 

In 1599, he became part owner in the most prestigious public playhouse in London, the Globe.

The Chamberlain's Men.  Over the years 1594-1599 the Chamberlain's Men had become the most popular acting company in London, being invited to perform at court far more often than any other group.  Shakespeare must have done a great deal of acting.

The Construction of The Globe: During the years before 1599 the Chamberlain's Men performed publicly primarily at The Theatre.

In 1597 the lease expired, and the Chamberlain's men were forced to move to The Curtain, another public playing house near The Theatre. 

They took The Theatre apart, transporting its timbers across the Thames to the Bankside where they were used to build The Globe.

The Globe was certainly the most magnificent Theater London had ever seen.