William Shakespeare
Mrs. Myers-Magder
West Island College
William Shakespeare
(1564-1616) is the
most famous writer
the world has ever
known. But he started
out just like any other
16th Century kid.
Shakespeare was born in an English town
called Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the third
child of eight born to John, a glove maker,
and Mary Shakespeare.
At 18, Shakespeare married Anne
Hathaway, an older woman. By the time
he was 22, they had three kids, including
twins. They named their first daughter
Susanna, and the twins, Hamnet and
Did Shakespeare write about his life
in his plays?
Anne was eight years older than her new
husband William. We can only wonder if
Shakespeare was speaking for himself in A
Midsummer Night's Dream:
Lysander: The course of true love never did run
But either it was different in blood...
Or else misgraffed in respect of years-Hermia: O spite! too old to be engage'd to
At 23, he moved to London and joined an
acting company. A few years later, his first
plays were performed and became big
hits. In all Shakespeare wrote 37 plays –
including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and A
Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The Works. Shakespeare's early works, to mid1594, can be divided into four groups:
The Classical plays: his first works which were heavily
influenced by the classical examples he had learned as a
student. (The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus).
The History plays: where Shakespeare took the rough materials
he found in certain early chronicle plays, and virtually invented a
new genre called the history play. (Henry VI plays, Richard III.
The Narrative Poems and Sonnets: his favorite author Ovid
served as the model for Venus and Adonis and the Rape of
Lucrece. It is also extremely probable the sonnet sequence
(spurred by Sidney's Astrophil and Stella in 1591) was begun
(perhaps on commission) to encourage the Earl of Southampton
to marry. The sonnets were probably composed over a number
of years, but were probably completed by 1597.
Experiments in comedy: The Taming of the Shrew, based on
Italian comedy, Two Gentlemen of Verona, an experiment with
plot and character, and the more mature Love's Labour's Lost,
probably all belong to this period.
The years 1594-1599 were momentous for
Shakespeare. He produced a steady
stream of plays, and he continued to be
the principal actor and manager in the
Chamberlain's men, an acting company.
The Globe Theatre was the place to be in
Elizabethan London. Shakespeare’s plays
were performed in this venue.
Ms. Myers at the Globe Theatre in
London, England.
Shakespeare’s later works included
tragedies and comedies, and sonnets – a
form of poetry.
Shakespeare who?
Although Shakespeare’s works are now
considered masterpieces, people didn’t
think of them that way in the Elizabethan
Era. Shakespeare’s biggest fans might not
have even known his name – just as
people today often don’t know who writes
their favourite TV shows.
Scholastic Scope-February 26, 1993
Why is Shakespeare famous?
With the 154 poems and 37 plays written during
Shakespeare's literary career, his body of works are
among the most quoted in literature. Shakespeare
created comedies, histories, tragedies, and poetry.
Shakespeare's works have been translated into every
major living language, and his plays are continually
performed all around the world.
For over 400 years, his work has been performed, read
and analyzed by millions.
You are quoting Shakespeare if:
you have ever refused "to budge an inch"
or suffered from "green-eyed jealousy”
 you have been "tongue-tied" - or "in a
 you have insisted on "fair play" - "slept
not one wink"
 you "laughed yourself into stitches", had
"too much of a good thing", or if you have
"seen better days"
You are quoting Shakespeare if:
You have ever referred to your "own flesh and
blood", or if you "lie low"
 You act "without rhyme or reason", or if you bid
me "good riddance" and "send me packing", if
you wish I was "dead as a doornail", if you think
I am an "eyesore" - a "laughing stock" or a
"blinking idiot", then...
 "For goodness sake" you are quoting
Elizabethan Era in brief
The Elizabethan Era is the period
associated with the reign of Queen
Elizabeth I (1558–1603). It saw the
flowering of English literature and poetry.
This was also the time during which
Elizabethan theatre grew and William
Shakespeare, among others, composed
plays that broke away from England's past
style of plays.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Points of interest
"A Midsummer Night's
Dream" inspired four
hundred years of
stories and pictures of
tiny, butterfly-winged
people living in the
woods. Walt Disney's
fairies are their
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Points of interest
The popular movie
"Dead Poets Society"
used the play as a
metaphor for young
people choosing
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Points of interest
The best-known character, "Bottom", is
transformed into an "ass" and becomes
the "butt" of jokes.
 The play-within-a-play looks like
Shakespeare's parody of his own "Romeo
and Juliet".
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Points of interest
It is not known exactly when A Midsummer Night's
Dream was written or first performed, but it is assumed
to be between 1594 and 1596. Some have theorized that
the play might have been written for an aristocratic
wedding; numerous such weddings took place in 1596,
while others suggest it was written for the Queen to
celebrate the feast day of St. John, but no concrete
evidence exists to link the play with either of them. In
either case, it would also have been performed at The
Theatre, and, later, The Globe in London.
Enjoy one of