William Shakespeare

Timeline of important dates and events in William Shakespeare's life, from his birth to the publication of the First Folio (first printed collection of all plays) in 1623.


23 April: William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The celebrated date is 23 April (St George's Day) but he may not actually have been born on this day.

26 April: William is christened in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon.


28 November: William marries Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior.


26 May: William's first child, Susanna, is baptised.


2 February: William's non-identical twins, Judith and Hamnet, are baptised.


At some point in these years, William left his family in Stratford-Upon-Avon and began working in London as an actor, playwright, and poet.


The book Greenes Groats-Worth of witte, attributed to Robert Greene, a playwright, is published. This contains the first printed allusion to Shakespeare, although it is not a flattering one! He accuses William of being an "upstart crow" who thinks himself the only "shake-scene in a country". More Info


January : London theatres closed due to an outbreak of the plague and did not re-open until the following year.

18 April: Shakespeare's narrative poem Venus and Adonis, dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, is his first work to be entered into the Stationers' Register.

By June Venus and Adonis is in print, becoming Shakespeare's first published work. More Info


9 May: Shakespeare's narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece, again dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, is entered into the Stationers Register. It is published later in the year.


11 August: William and his wife, Anne, bury their only son, Hamnet, who died aged 11, in Stratford-Upon-Avon.


May: William buys New Place, one of the largest houses in Stratford-Upon-Avon. More Info


The book Wits Treasury by Francis Meres is published. This makes several important references to Shakespeare, praising him as a great playwright, mentioning several plays, including Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Love's Labours Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II and Titus Andronicus. He also praises the sonnets, which he tells us are in private circulation (not published until 1609). More Info

William acted in Ben Johnson's play Every Man in his Humour More Info


The Globe Theate is built. Thomas Platter, a Swiss tourist, records in his diary that he saw a production of Julius Caesar at The Globe on 21 September. More Info

John Weever publishes his book Epigrammes which includes a poem dedicated to Shakespeare Ad Guglielmum Shakespeare. This poem, in the form of a sonnet, praises Shakespeare's work, especially his narrative poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. More Info


7 September: William's father, John Shakespeare, dies. He is buried the following day in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon.


24 March: Queen Elizabeth I dies. Not long after, Shakespeare's acting company The Chamberlain's Men change their name to The King's Men in honour of the new king, James I, who takes them under royal patronage within days of arriving in London.


London theatres close again due to a plague outbreak and do no open until the following year.

Shakespeare's acting company The King's Men takes possession of Blackfriars Theatre, London's first indoor theatre, and starts performing plays regularly there during winter months from 1609.

September: William's mother, Mary Arden, dies. She is buried on 9 September in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon.


20 May: Shakespeare's Sonnets are entered into the Stationers' Register. They are published for the first time later in the year. More Info


At some point during these years William retires from the London theatre scene and returns to Stratford-Upon-Avon.


29 June: The Globe theatre burns to the ground during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII. The fire was started by a cannon shot. Sparks from the cannon fire landed on the theatre's thatched roof and set the place ablaze.


By June of this year The Globe theatre has been rebuilt and re-opens.


25 March: William signs his Last Will and Testament, famously leaving his "second best bed" to his wife, Anne Hathaway.

23 April: William is believed to have died on this day, but the exact date of his death is unknown.

25 April: William is buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon.


August: Anne Hathaway, William's wife, dies in Stratford-Upon-Avon. She is buried beside her husband in Holy Trinity Church.

8 November: The First Folio of Shakespeare's plays is entered into the Staioners' Register. It is unknown how many copies were printed, but estimates put the figure between 500 and 750 copies.


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