Who was that William Shakespeare of Stratford? More has been written about him than about any writer that ever lived. But while reading any biographical books about Shakespeare, we may be surprised of a large number of such sentences as "It's possible that...", "We have no trace of what Shakespeare did during this years", and so on.
The facts are very few. Shakespeare was probably born on the 23-rd of April 1564, in Stratford-on-Avon. His father was a respectable shopkeeper, and dealt in wool, skins, leather and gloves. His mother, Mary Arden was a farmer's daughter. William was the eldest of eight children. We know that when Shakespeare was 18, he married Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years older than himself, that in 1853 Susanna, their first child was born and that twins Hamnet and Judith followed in 1585. At the age of 22 Shakespeare left Stratford alone, for London. We know that in 1593 and 1594 he wrote two early poems, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece.
Later, he became a member of the company known as "Chamberlain's men" which played at the "Theatre"; and he wrote for the company. He was already reaching the height of his fame when the Globe Theatre was built in 1593. He often acted at court, and retired, about 1611, to Stratford.
The day of his death was the 23-rd of April 1616, fifty-two years exactly after the supposed day of his birth. That is all we know about William Shakespeare.
That has been a good deal of debate about the extent Shakespeare's learning. It's true that he never went to the university or traveled abroad. Some romantics declared that an illiterate could never have written such poetry -therefore someone else must have done it instead. Such reactions are unnecessary. Shakespeare learned grammar, logic and Latin at the grammar school, and he had enough education to develop his literary skill.
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, among them comedies (The Taming of Screw, Twelfth Night), tragedies (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello), historical plays (Henry 6,Richard 3).
Shakespeare possesses some special merit for every generation and almost every person in turn. Whether he is writing of history, or love, or tragedy, or comedy, things have meaning and value. It was his genius that gave the world poetry of a deathless beauty.