William Shakespeare | A Short Biographical Sketch

William Shakespeare : A Short Biographical Sketch

William Shakespeare

Name : William Shakespeare
Known as : “Bard of Avon”
Date of Birth : April 23, 1564 (On assumption, as he was baptized in Holy Trinity Church on April 26)
Birth Place : Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.
Father : Richard Shakespeare, a dealer of agricultural product by profession
Mother : Mary Shakespeare, daughter of Robert Arden of Wilmcote
Early Education : No definiteness, may be in Stratford Grammar School
Spouse : Anne Hathway ( Eight years older than her husband, William)
Children : Susana Hall & Judith Quiney (daughters), Hamnet Shakespeare (only son)
Occupation : Playwright, Poet & Actor
Literary Period : Elizabethan Age

As a Poet

From 1592 to 1594 the theatrical companies in London were somewhat disorganized because of the plague. Shakespeare utilized the time beautifully by showing us his talent in verse writing. His first long narrative poem is “Venus and Adonis” (1593). He composed 154 sonnets which were published in the volume, Shakespeare‘s Sonnet in 1609. His Sonnets, 1-126 are dedicated to his bosom friend, Mr. W. H. and 127-154 to the Dark Lady. But the identity of Mr. W.H. and the Dark Lady is still in mystery.

 Popular Sonnets

1) Sonnet 18 : Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2) Sonnet 60 : Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore
3) Sonnet 65 : Since  brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
4) Sonnet 116 :  Let me not to the marriage of true minds
5) Sonnet 130 :  My  mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun

Sonnet Style, Structure and Form

Shakespeare‘s sonnets are written predominantly in iambic pentameter.

There are fourteen lines in a Shakespearean sonnet. The first twelve lines are divided into three quatrains with four lines each. In the three quatrains the poet establishes a theme or problem and then resolves it in the final two lines, called the couplet. The rhyme scheme of the quatrains is abab cdcd efef. The couplet has the rhyme scheme gg.

As a Popular Playwright 

As a phenomenal playwright his creative career is divided into four periods:
                         First Period (1590-1594)- experiment and external influence (The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo and Juliet etc.)
                         Second Period (1595-1599)- mature power in comedy and historical plays (Henry IV, Julius Ceaser, As You Like It, Twelfth Night etc.)
                         Third Period (1600-1609)- satire and tragedy (Troilus & Cressida, Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, Othelo etc.)
                         Fourth Period (1608-1611)- romance (The Tempest, etc)
The Winter’s Tale

Shakespeare’s Frequently Quoted Lines  

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.  Romeo and Juliet ( Quote Act II, Sc. II) 
 “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”. – Macbeth ( Quote Act I, Scene I)

 “To be, or not to be: that is the question”. Hamlet  (Act III, Sc. I).

 “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

 “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” 

“What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.”
“Love’s not Time’s fool”
“Love is not love which alters when it alternation finds”


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