• život W. S. ve Stratfordu a v Londýně
  • poezie
  • dramata - tragedie, komedie, historické hry, romance + příklady
  • divadlo Globe
  • vybrané drama
  • oblíbený autor
  • přehled nejvýznamnějších britských a amerických spisovatelů

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William Shakespeare was born on 23 April 1564, at Stratford-upon-Avon as the oldest son of John Shakespeare, a merchant. At the age of seven he started attending the local grammar school and was educated there. At eighteen he married Anne Hathaway from a nearby village of Shottery, She was eight years older than he and already pregnant. They had three children - a daughter Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith.

He joined the Lord Chamberlain's Men in 1954; working as a leading actor and dramatist, by 1599 the company had built their own theatre, the Globe.

In 1612, Shakespeare went home. His son died. He was a wealthy man and bought a handsome house, New Place. Here he spent the last years of his life. He died on 23 April 1616. He is buried at Trinity Church in Stratford.


Shakespeare wrote 37 plays - divided into tragedies, comedies, historical plays and romances:


  • Romeo and Juliet (the story tells about the long vendetta between the families of Montague and Capulet in Verona. Rome, a Montague, falls in love with Juliet, a Capulet, and secretly marries her. Juliet's cousin Tybalt challenges Romeo to a duel. Romeo refuses, but his friend Mercutio fights in his place and is killed. In anger and revenge, Romeo slays Tybalt, and is banished. Juliet is commanded by her father to marry Paris, a nobleman, and the Friar who had secretly married Juliet to Romeo now helps her by giving her a poison which makes her seem dead. Romeo mistakenly believes her really dead, goes to Verona and himself takes poison. Juliet wakes, finds her young husband's body beside her and stabs herself.)
  • Hamlet (is based on the Danish legend)
  • Othello
  • King Lear (reveals the tragedy of the father who banishes his youngest daughter Cordelia who does not speak to him with insincere affection like her sisters. She says that she loves him according to her duty. King Lear is later banished by his two daughters, between whom he has divided the kingdom. He is left to a horrible storm and this cruel treatment deprives him of his wits. His youngest daughter comes to help him but she is imprisoned and hanged. King Lear dies of grief)
  • Macbeth


  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • As You Like It
  • Twelfth Night

Historical plays

  • Richard III
  • Henry IV
  • Julius Caesar
  • Anthony and Cleopatra


  • The Winter Tale

Shakespeare was also a great poet - he wrote sonnets that would have made him world famous even if he had not written anything else.

Quotations from Shakespeare

  1. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. (Hamlet)
  2. Frailty, the name is woman! (Hamlet)
  3. My kingdom for a horse! (Richard III)
  4. No worse a husband than the best of men. (Anthony and Cleopatra)
  5. To be or not to be — that is the question! (Hamlet)

Shakespeare — well, I never knew that!

  • Did you know the word 'housekeeping' was a Shakespeare invention?
  • He's responsible for over 1,700 words we use every day. And another thing....

The Box Office

  • In Elizabethan times many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed at The Globe Theatre in London. To get in, you put one penny in a box by the door. Then you could stand on the ground in front of the stage.
  • To sit on the first balcony, you put another penny in the box held by a man in front of the stairs. To sit on the second balcony, you put another penny in the box held by the man by the second flight of stairs.
  • Then when the show started, the men went and put the boxes in a room backstage - the box office.

The Globe

  • The Globe Theatre didn’t just show plays. It ‘acted’ as a bear pit, brothel, and a gambling house.
  • Actors' toil
  • In Shakespeare’s time copyright didn’t exist, so the actors only got their lines as the play was in progress. They only got to know who else was playing what the day of the performance.
  • Many times they didn't even get their own lines. They did "cue acting", which meant that there was a person backstage that whispered the lines to the person right before he was going to say them. Actors were not considered trustworthy people, and the market for good plays was large.
  • No women allowed
  • The actors were all men in Shakespeare's day. The parts of women were played by boys who still had light voices.

Elizabeth I. influence

  • Legend has it that at the tender age of eleven, William watched the pageantry associated with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth Castle near Stratford and later recreated this scene many times in his plays.

You speak Shakespeare every day

  • Shakespeare literally invented 1,700 words in the English language. He was the first person to use words like - aerial, critic, submerge, majestic, hurry, lonely, road, assassination, laughable, reliance, exposure......
  • He’s also responsible for many of the every day phrases we use without a thought to where they came from. If you thought you didn’t know any Shakespeare then you should think again. Have you ever said any of these phrases?
  • 'Break the ice', 'All that glitters is not gold', 'Hot-blooded', 'In the mind’s eye', 'Housekeeping', 'It’s all Greek to me', 'The naked truth', 'One fell swoop', 'Method in his madness'.....
  • There you go. Shakespeare is probably in all our lives in some way every day. Even those of us who’ve never seen one of his plays or read one of his sonnets.


  • Nobody knows Shakespeare’s true birthday. By tradition and guesswork, William is assumed to have been born on April the 23rd, a date now commonly used to celebrate the famous Bard's birthday.


  • William was born to a Stratford tanner named John Shakespeare. His mother Mary was the daughter of a wealthy gentleman-farmer named Robert Arden.

Images of him

  • There are only two authentic portraits of William Shakespeare. An engraving of him by Martin Droeshout (see above) first published on the title page of the 1623 First Folio, and the monument of the great playwright in Stratford's Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

His wife

  • William married a much older woman. Anne Hathaway was 26 years old when William married her at age 18. They married at Temple Grafton, a village approximately five miles (8 km) from Stratford. Anne Hathaway was said to be from Shottery.

His children

  • Shakespeare and his wife had three children, daughter Susannah, Hamnet and Judith. Susannah received most of the Bard's fortune when he died in 1616, age 52.
  • Hamnet died at age 11, Judith at 77. Susanna died in 1649, age 66.
  • More Shakespeare: There were two Shakespeare families living in Stratford when William was born; the other family did not become famous.
  • No BA Shakespeare, one of literature’s greatest figures, never went to university.

His first play?

  • Most academics agree that William wrote his first play, Henry VI, Part One around 1589 to 1590 when he would have been roughly 25 years old.

First sonnet

  • He is believed to have started writing the first of his 154 sonnets in 1593 at age 29. His first sonnet was Venus and Adonis published in the same year.
  • His work was copied
  • He suffered breech of copyright. In 1609, many of his sonnets were published without his permission.


  • William lived through the Black Death. This epidemic killed over 33,000 in London alone in 1603 when Will was 39.

Shakespeare lost a play

  • The play Cardenio that has been credited to him and which was performed in his life, has been completely lost to time. Today we have no written record of its story whatsoever.


  • Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52. He wrote on average 1.5 plays a year since he first started in 1589. His last play The Two Noble Kinsmen is thought to have been written in 1613 when he was 49 years old.


  • Unlike most famous artists of his time, the Bard did not die in poverty. When he died, his will contained several large holdings of land.

Nearly missed out

  • William never published any of his plays. We read his plays today only because his fellow actors John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work as a dedication to their fellow actor in 1623, publishing 36 of William’s plays.
  • This collection known as The First Folio is the source from which all published Shakespeare books are derived and is an important proof that he authored his plays.

Bard - the actor

  • Few people realize that aside from writing 37 plays and composing 154 sonnets, William was also an actor who performed many of his own plays as well as those of other playwrights (Ben Jonson).
  • As an actor performing his own plays, William performed before Queen Elizabeth I and later before James I who was an enthusiastic patron of his work.


  • Shakespeare dabbled in property development. At age 33, he bought the second most prestigious property in all of Stratford, The New Place, and later he doubled his investment on some land he bought near Stratford.

Medieval critics

  • Even Shakespeare had his critics. One called Robert Greene described the young playwright as an "upstart young crow" or arrogant upstart, accusing him of borrowing ideas from his seniors in the theatre world for his own plays.

His booty

  • Shakespeare left most of his property to Susannah, his first child and not to his wife Anne Hathaway. Instead his loyal wife infamously received his "second-best bed".
  • The Bard's second best bed wasn’t so bad, it was his marriage bed; his best bed was for guests.

Doom and gloom

  • Suicide occurs an unlucky thirteen times in Shakespeare’s plays.
  • It occurs in Romeo and Juliet where both Romeo and Juliet commit suicide. In Julius Caesar where both Cassius and Brutus die by consensual stabbing, as well as Brutus’ wife Portia.
  • In Othello, where Othello stabs himself, in Hamlet where Ophelia is said to have "drowned" in suspicious circumstances, in Macbeth when Lady Macbeth dies, and finally in Antony and Cleopatra where suicide occurs an astounding five times (Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Charmian, Iras and Eros.

And finally.....

  • William Shakespeare is one of the most identifiable icons of England. Others include The Queen, Big Ben and London red buses.

Compulsory reading authors

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

He was born in 1835 and died in 1910. His work is filled with stories about people living along the River Mississippi. He was a good humorist and shows the basic goodness and wisdom of ordinary people. His work – Life on the Mississippi, A £ 1,000,000 Banknote, Gilded Age, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (his best novel, as the first author Twain describes slaves as people who feel and love, describes Friendship of a slave and a white boy), Prince and the Pauper.

Charles Dickens

He was born in 1812 and died in 1870. He is one of the best English writers, one of the representatives of realism in literature. As the son of a clerk he had an unsettled childhood in London. His parents had financial difficulties that resulted in his father's imprisonment for debt. All this provided material for later fiction. His work – The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, Great Expectations.

Emily Bronte (1818 – 1848) and Charlotte Bronte (1816 – 1855)

Were daughters of the Reverend. They deal with moral and psychological problems and impressed later generations of readers by the narrative force, criticism and woman's claim to independence. Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre, and Emily wrote Wuthering Heights.

Jane Austen

Was born in 1775 and died in 1817. She lived all her life in a little town. Her primary interest is people and the exact presentation of the human situation. Her characters are living creatures with their faults and virtues. Her novels are Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park etc.