Hamlet: Biography: William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare was born in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden.  It is generally accepted that he attended the King's New School, the Stratford grammar school known for its classical curriculum, because of his knowledge of Latin classics and written scenes recalling grammar school experiences such as exercises memorized by schoolboys.  It is known for certain that at age 18, he married Anne Hathaway with whom he had 3 children.  Susanna was born May 26, 1583 and the twins, Judith and Hamnet, were born February 2, 1585.  It is not known for sure how he supported his family or where they lived but by the early 1590's, he was established in London as both an actor and playwright.  The majority of his money however, did not come from his writing or performances but from his position as a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which earned him 1/10 of the company's profit.  This was enough to allow Shakespeare to become a successful real estate investor. 
The public acting of women was prohibited in the England of Shakespeare's time and so writers would often emphasize the femininity of their female characters so as to remove the necessity of an actual female in the role. Shakespeare was greatly responsible for roles in which female characters spent much of their time disguised as boys.  This helped to deflect attention from the fact that the part was actually played by a young boy. 
A play in that time was often commissioned by an acting company which could then sell it to a publisher at its own discretion without further compensating the author.  Shakespeare did not take part in the process of publishing his own plays.  Thus, in his lifetime alone, twenty publishers bought different editions of his individual plays but none took any special steps to ensure that the text was correct.  His name was rarely printed on his work until the 1623 publication of the First Folio because it's use had little commercial value at the time.
Shakespeare's First Folio was not published until 7 years after his death in 1616.  He was outlived by his wife but chose to leave the majority of his estate to his daughter Susanna.  He also left £300 to his daughter Judith.  Hamnet had died at age 11.  William Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, having died on or near his estimated April 23 birthday.

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