Signup for our regular eNewsletter to receive the latest news and special offers.
William Shakespeare was born, lived and lies buried in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Today there are five Shakespeare Houses linked to him and his family, each offering a unique insight into his life and times. And no trip to Stratford would be complete without seeing a Shakespeare performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
William Shakespeare was born on 23 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the third child and eldest son of John and Mary Shakespeare. His father was a glove maker and tanner and an important figure in the town.
Shakespeare attended King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon. The classical writers he studied in the classroom had a big influence on his plays and poetry.
At the age of 18, in November 1582, he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a local landowner. Her family home, now known as Anne Hathaway's Cottage, still stands in the village of Shottery, a mile outside Stratford. Together they had 3 children; Susanna, Hamnet and Judith. William's family lived at his father's house in Henley Street, now known as Shakespeare's Birthplace. Shakespeare's son, Hamnet died aged 11 in 1596. In 1607 Shakespeare's daughter Susanna married John Hall a successful doctor, and lived together in Hall's Croft. His younger daughter, Judith, married Thomas Quiney in 1616.
Little is known about his early married life but when he moved to London in 1592 he began to make his name. Shakespeare spent 25 years of his 52 years living and working as a dramatist and actor in London, whilst maintaining his home and family in Stratford. His early career in London coincided with the outbreak of the plague, which killed thousands of people and closed all the theatres in order to stop the disease spreading. During this time Shakespeare wrote some of his most popular poems, including his 154 sonnets.
In 1611 Shakespeare returned to Stratford to live with his family at New Place, said at the time to be the second finest house in Stratford.
He died on his birthday, 23 April 1616, aged 52. He is buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. His widow Anne died in 1623 and was buried beside him. Shakespeare's family line came to an end with the death of his grand-daughter Elizabeth in 1670.
Every year, Stratford-upon-Avon has a weekend of events and entertainment to celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday including a procession through the town. Further details are available on www.shakespeare.org.uk
If you want to read more about William Shakespeare's life and work, then Shakespeare Country can provide an excellent paperbook guide book from Pitkin that goes into much more detail.