The works of William Shakespeare

Portrait of William Shakespeare

Introduction

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's most proeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the Bard of Avon.

His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 54 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Early Life

William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, a successful glover and alderman originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer.He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised on 26 April 1564. His actual birthdate is unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, St George's Day. This date, which can be traced back to an eighteenth-century scholar's mistake, has proved appealing because Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.

Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that William Shakespeare may have been educated at the King's New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553, about a quarter of a mile from his home. Grammar schools varied in quality during the Elizabethan era, but the curriculum was dictated by law throughout England, and the school would have provided an intensive education in Latin grammar and the classics.

Quotes

Below is William Shakespeare's most famous monologue from Hamlet (1599-1602).

HAMLET: To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Works

Shakespeare's works include the 36 plays that are grouped into Comedies, Tragedies and Histories.

Works of William Shakespeare.
Categories Examples
Comedy The Comedy of Errors.
Tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
Poems Sonnets.

Shakespeare's work is full of words that seem strange to us. Here is a glossary of some words and their meanings.

ABY:
to expiate a fault
ANTRE:
a cave
ANTHROPOPHAGINIAN:
a cannibal
GALLIMAUFRY:
a ridiculous medley
GORBELLIED:
corpulent
GIGLOT:
a wanton girl

Shakespeare's works are performed around the world. The RSC in London is perhaps the most famous venue for performances of the Bard's plays.

The address of the Theatre Royal is 100 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6BR.