William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in April 1564. He was from a prominent local family and would have received a good education.
In 1582, aged eighteen, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. By 1592 he was a playwright in London. Quite what took him from a comfortable existence and marriage in Stratford-upon-Avon to the no-doubt more precarious life in Elizabethan theatre we do not know but the talented Shakespeare undoubtedly prospered.
A man of many talents
By 1594, Shakespeare was an actor, writer and joint owner of a playing company that became so popular it was adopted by King James I following his succession to the throne in 1603. The company then became known as the King’s Men.
Shakespeare’s output of plays and poetry was prodigious in quantity and quality. As well as being regarded as the world’s greatest writer of the English language, his works have been translated into every other major living language.
The play Macbeth was probably written some time between 1603 and 1606 to celebrate James I’s Stuart ancestors and his accession to the throne. James, son of the executed Mary Queen of Scots, was King James VI of Scotland.
Death of a dramatist
Shakespeare died in 1616 aged 52, having retired to Stratford three years earlier. His life and works continue to be celebrated world-wide.