Shakespeare is by far the greatest name in English literature, born in 1564, at Stratford-on-Avon.
His mother, Mary Arden, came of a noble family, and his father, John Shakespeare, was a prosperous farmer, wool and timber merchant, and butcher of the village. He also took keen interest in municipal affairs and rose to the position of judge of the peace and high bailiff of the town. He was always involved in litigation, and his son William, as the eldest son, must have frequently assisted him, acquiring his legal knowledge.
About the age of nine he was admitted to the grammar school of the village.
Tradition has it that he was not a good student and it was only reluctantly that he crawled to school, where he learned “small Latin and less Greek”. He often played truant, look part in the village games, which receive honourable mention in his plays; the landscape round about his native village is beautiful and it must have made a deep impression upon the boy, for the memory colours many of his best nature pieces scattered all up and down his works.
When William was only twelve years of age, his father’s fortunes began to decline, and the boy had to be withdrawn from school at his early age. He now helped his father in his business, and he may also worked for some time as a school master in the village school. The family, a large one, was passing through a crisis. His father withdrew himself from the affairs of the town, lost his position as the leading citizen and became an insolvent debtor. William must have done his best to pull his family through difficult times.
When he was hardly nineteen years old, he contracted a marriage with Anne Hathaway; critics have tried to show that the marriage was an unhappy one, but nothing can be concluded for certain. Only six month later was born his eldest daughter, Susanna, and in 1585 the marriage was blessed with twins, Hamlet and Judith. About this very time, Shakespeare left his village for London to seek his fortune...