Celebrating Shakespeare's 400 year Legacy

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“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” -- William Shakespeare

The year 2016 commemorates 400 years since the death of the world famous playwright, William Shakespeare. Several events, plays, seminars, etc are lined up for a global celebration of his life, work and legacy.

William Shakespeare, the ‘Bard of Avon’ is the eternal legend. He was a player, who delighted the world with his literary works, which includes 38 dramas, 154 sonnets and 2 wide narrative poems. Born to John Shakespeare, a glove maker and tradesman, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent farmer, on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, he was the third of eight children. Young William grew up in this small town, about 100 miles north-west of London, far from the cultural and courtly centre of England.

Shakespeare attended the local grammar school, where the curriculum would stress a classical education of Greek mythology, Roman comedy, ancient history, rhetoric, grammar, Latin, and possibly Greek. His father’s financial debt made him suffer his entire life and unlike his fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe, he did not attend university. At the age of 18, he got married to a girl named Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than him. Their first child, Susanna, was born in 1583, and twins, Hamnet and Judith, came along in 1585.

In a 1592 pamphlet by Robert Greene, Shakespeare reappeared as an ‘upstart crow’ flapping his poetic wings in London. Evidently, it did not take him long to land on the stage. When theatres were closed in 1593 due to plague, the playwright wrote two narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, and probably began writing his richly textured sonnets. Getting back into the literary stage, William wrote The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love’s Labor’s Lost. Shakespeare entered one of his most prolific period around 1595, writing Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Merchant of Venice. During this period, he established himself as an actor and playwright, became a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the most popular acting companies in London and remained a member of this company for the rest of his career, often playing in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

At the age of 52, this literary icon left the stage (world) on April 23, the day he was born and at his birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon. His incredible writings, inspiring quotations, plays, poems and literary imprints ensure that he is and will forever remain alive in the memories of literature lovers.

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