William Shakespeare (1564–1616) was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, to a middle-class glover and landowner’s daughter. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and moved to London to work with a theatrical troupe ten years later.
Since little has been learned of his early life, nearly all of what we know about Shakespeare begins—on the London stage—in 1592. In the wake of his critical and public success, Shakespeare helped build the Globe theater on the River Thames.
Regarded as the world’s preeminent dramatist, his extant works include thirty-eight plays, one hundred and fifty-four sonnets, and two narrative poems, and have been translated into every major language. To this day, his plays have been performed more often than those of any other playwright—adapted for film and television, updated, deconstructed, and transfigured into ballets, operas, and musicals. Though his formal education exceeded no further than grammar school, William Shakespeare became the most transcendent and influential writer in all of world literature.