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Cassius' words to Brutus in
Julius Caesar could well be Shakespeare's words to his audience with respect to his plays:

And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.

In his dramatic works, Shakespeare has provided insights into human nature which, in the opinion of many of his disciples, equal those of the greatest modern psychologists. The impact of the Bard's insights is compounded by a masterful use of the language which makes him the mostly widely studied English writer.

Church records indicate that William Shakespeare was baptised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire on April 26, 1564. April 23 is widely accepted as his date of birth. His father was a respected tradesman (a glover who was involved in a variety of commercial activities) who held several important municipal offices.

Shakespeare was probably educated at the local grammar school. He would have viewed local theatrical productions by groups of travelling players. When he was eighteen he married the twenty-six year old Anne Hathaway. In May of 1583 she gave birth to their first daughter, Susanna. In 1585, twins, named Hamnet and Judith, were born. Shortly thereafter, Shakespeare left Stratford. It has been speculated that he was fleeing prosecution for poaching deer on the property of a local nobleman.

By about 1587 he had arrived in London and begun his career as an actor and playwright. His success earned him the jealousy of rivals such as Richard Greene who condemned him as "an upstart crow" in 1592.

The following is a chronological listing of Shakespeare's canon of plays and poetry:

1588-93 - The Comedy of Errors
1588-92 - Henry VI (three parts)
1592-93 - Richard III
1592-94 - Titus Andronicus
1593-94 - The Taming of the Shrew
1593-94 - The Two Gentlemen of Verona
1593-94 - "The Rape of Lucrece"
1593-1600 - "Sonnets"
1588-95 - Love's Labor's Lost
1594-96 - Romeo and Juliet
1595 - Richard II
1594-96 - A Midsummer Night's Dream
1590-97 - King John
1592 - "Venus and Adonis"
1596-97 - The Merchant of Venice
1597 - Henry IV (Part I)
1597-98 - Henry IV (Part II)
1598-1600 - Much Ado About Nothing
1598-99 - Henry V
1599 - Julius Caesar
1599-1600 - As You Like It
1600-02 - Twelfth Night
1600-OI - Hamlet
1597-1601 - The Merry Wives of Windsor
1600-OI - "The Phoenix and the Turtle"
160I-02 - Troilus and Cressida
1602-04 - All's Well That Ends Well
1603-04 - Othello
1604 - Measure for Measure
1604-09 - Timon of Athens
1605-06 - King Lear
1605-06 - Macbeth
1606-07 - Antony and Cleopatra
1607-09 - Coriolanus
1608-09 - Pericles
1609-IO - Cymbeline
16IO-II - The Winter's Tale
16II - The Tempest
16I2-I3 - Henry VIII
16I3 - The Two Noble Kinsmen

In 1594, Shakespeare joined The Chamberlain's Men, a theatrical company which enjoyed the patronage of the royal court. It is believed that he was instrumental in enabling his father to receive a grant of arms from the College of Heralds in 1596. The following year he purchased New Place, one of the largest houses in Stratford. He was one of the proprietors of the Globe Theatre which was built in 1599.

Although he continued to contribute to the theatre in London until 1614, Shakespeare moved back to Stratford in 1610. He died on April 23, 1616 of a fever contracted after an evening of entertaining fellow writers, Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton, in his home.

Shakespeare was buried on April 25 in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford under a gravestone bearing the following lines:

Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
Blese be ye man yt spares these stones
And curst be he yt moves my bones

Links to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare on-line

More Information on "the Bard"

A wide variety of Shakespeare's works and reference works are available from Click on the title for information on ordering a specific work or click on the logo to do your own search:

The Complete Signet Classic Shakepeare by Sylvan Barnet (Editor).

Shakespearean Tragedy by A.C. Bradley.

Shakespeare in the Movies: From the Silent Era to Shakespeare in Love by Douglas C. Brode.

The Friendly Shakespeare : A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard by Norrie Epstein.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt.

After Shakespeare: Writing Inspired by the World's Greatest Author by John Gross.

Playgoing in Shakespeare's London by Andrew Gurr.

William Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Genius: A Biography by Anthony Holden.

Shakespeare's England: Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean Times by Ron Pritchard.

Shakespeare's Imagery and What it Tells Us by Caroline Spurgeon.

Elizabethan World Picture by E. Tillyard and M. Tillyard.

What Happens in Hamlet by John D. Wilson .

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