Why Famous: William Shakespeare is often named the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. His extant works consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets and additional poems.
His plays have been translated into every major living language and have been performed more often than any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in England in 1564, the third of eight children to a prominent businessman and official. At 18 he married Anne Hathaway, probably in some hurry, their first child a daughter Susanna was born 6 months later.
It wasn't until 1592 that Shakespeare is recorded established in London as a founder member of the theatre company The Lord Chamberlain's Men. From the 1603 the company came under the patronage of King James I as The King's Men with the Globe as their theatre, which they had constructed in 1599.
It is during this time that Shakespeare wrote his most famous plays, tragedies such as "Macbeth" and "King Lear" and comedies and romances including "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Romeo and Juliet".
After Shakespeare's death in 1616 two of his fellow players published a collection of 36 of his plays in 1623 in the "First Folio" preserving Shakespeare's works and ensuring his legacy.
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- 1302-03-11 Romeo & Juliet's wedding day, according to Shakespeare
- 1582-11-28 Playwright and poet William Shakespeare (18) marries Anne Hathaway (26) (date of the marriage license)
- 1564-04-26 William Shakespeare is baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
- 1595-01-29 William Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet" is thought to have been first performed. Officially published early 1597.
- 1597-04-23 William Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" is first performed, with Queen Elizabeth I of England in attendance
- 1604-11-01 William Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello" first presented
- 1606-08-07 Possible first performance of Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, performed in the Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace for King James I
- 1606-12-26 First known performance of William Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear" before the court of King James I at Whitehall, London
- 1609-05-20 Shakespeare's Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by publisher Thomas Thorpe
- 1611-04-20 First known performance of Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth at the Globe Theatre, London, recorded by Simon Forman
- 1611-11-01 Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Tempest" first presented
- 1613-06-29 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, burns down during a performance of "Henry VIII"
- 1623-12-05 First copies purchased of William Shakespeare's First Folio, collecting his plays posthumously into one volume, bought by Edward Dering
- 1642-09-06 English Long Parliament issues Ordinance ordering closure of London theatres including the Globe theatre, once part-owned by William Shakespeare
- 1750-03-05 1st American Shakespearean production-"altered" Richard III, NYC
- 1847-09-16 Shakespeare Birthplace Trust buys bard's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon
- 1932-04-23 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens at Stratford-on-Avon, England
- 1978-02-11 China lifts a ban on works of Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens
- 1997-06-12 Shakespeare's Globe theatre opens in London, England, replica of original Globe theatre (1599-1642) with performance O. Henry V, after campaign by Sam Wanamaker
- 1999-03-31 "10 Things I Hate About You", a modernization of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, is released
- 2012-06-07 16th century archaeology remains of the Curtain Theatre, where some of Shakespeare's plays first performed found under a pub in London
- 2016-03-23 GPR investigation of Shakespeare's tomb at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford concludes the Bard's skull probably has been stolen
- 2019-09-09 Poet John Milton's own copy of Shakespeare's First Folio of 1623 has survived with his annotations according to scholar Jason Scott-Warren in Philadelphia library, could be world's most important modern literary discovery
- 2020-10-14 A copy of William Shakespeare's First Folio sells for a record $9.98 million at auction in New York
- "This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man."