William Shakespeare is considered the greatest playwright of English literature but, paradoxically, he is also the least documented.
All that is known about his life is that he was born Stratford upon Avon in 1564, the ealdest son of John Shakespeare, a glover, and Mary Ardentinny.
In Stratford he probably attended the free Grammar School where he learnt some Latin and the classics.
In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway who bore him three children.
After a gap of about ten years, his name is mentioned again in 1592 when Robert Greene attacked him in a pamphlet, A Groats worth of Wit, defining him "an upstart Crow, beautified with our father's.
This shows that Shakespeare had already become known and well established in London as an actor and dramatist.
From 1593 to 1594 theatres were closed because of a plague in London, and during the years Shakespeare composed his poems and many of his sonnets dedicated to the Earl of Southampton.
In 1595 he joined the Lord Chamberlain's Men, of the most important companies of actors which also performed at Court.
Later he became a shareholder in the Globe theatre, and in 1597 he purchased New Place in Stratford, where he retired in 1611. He died on on April 23, 1616.
Shakespeare did not write his plays for publication, as they were mainly produced to be performed.