23    Apr 20140 comments

Shakespeare: His life and legacy

Today marks 450 years since the birthday of English poet, playwright and actor, William Shakespeare.

Possibly born April 23 1564, Shakespeare is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in English literature and someone who revolutionized theater. The third of eight children, his father, John Shakespeare, was a glover, trader and local politician, and his mother was Mary Arden. His parents were first cousins, not uncommon in those times.

Although William's exact date of birth is unknown, we do know that he was baptized on April 26. In those times, baptism took place no more than a few days after birth, and therefore April 23, 1564 is widely recognized as his date of birth.

Birth record of William Shakespeare, from England Births and Christenings collection in MyHeritage SuperSearch, 1538-1975 (Click to zoom).

Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582, when he was 18 and she was 26. Their first child, Susanna, was born May 26, 1583. Two years later, their twins Hamnet and Judith were born on February 2, 1585..

Over some 20 years, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Shakespeare wrote scores of plays, capturing the complete range of human emotions.

During his lifetime, he was known as a well-respected actor and playwright. Later in life, he became an entrepreneur as well, allowing him the luxury of developing his artistic talents uninterrupted.

Tradition states that he died on the same exact day that he was born, 52 years later.

Reverence for Shakespeare’s works increased in the Romantic period of the early 1800s, and continued to rise through the Victorian period. It was only in the 19th century, some 200 years after his death, that he took on the status of National Poet and artistic genius. In the 20th century, new movements have rediscovered and adapted his works, making him even more popular than ever.

Today, his plays are highly popular and they are studied and reinterpreted across the world and he is a global icon. His works connect us to a time to a time and place otherwise long-forgotten.

What was the first work of Shakespeare that you read? What is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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