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William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564. He was baptized on April 24, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. He was the third of eight children born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, three of whom died in childhood. John was a well-known merchant and Mary was the daughter of a Roman Catholic member of the gentry, or high social position. The house where Shakespeare spent his childhood stood adjacent to he wool shop in which his father plied a successful trade as a glover and dealer in leather goods and other commodities. Before moving to Stratford sometime prior to 1552 John Shakespeare had been a farmer in the neighboring village of Snitterfield. Whether he was able to read and write is uncertain. By marrying Mary Arden, the daughter of his father\'s landlord, he acquired the benefits of a better social standing and a lucrative inheritance, much of which he invested in property such as houses. And by involving himself in public service, he rose by sure degrees to the highest municipal positions Stratford had to offer such as: chamberlain in 1561, alderman in 1565, and bailiff ,or mayor, and justice of the peace in 1568.
Shakespeare was educated at the local grammar school. According to history, because Shakespeare was the eldest son, he should have been the apprentice to his father\'s shop so that he could be taught everything his father knew and soon take over the business. But instead he was the apprentice to a butcher because of the trouble in his father\'s financial situation. Just what happened to alter John Shakespeare\'s financial and social position after the mid 1570s is not clear. Shakespeare was still allowed a lot of free time when he was young. This was suggested by historians that his plays show more ideas of hunting and hawking than do those of other play writers. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a farmer. He was thought to have left Stratford after he was caught poaching in the deer park of Sir Thomas Lucy. He was a local justice of the peace. Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway had a daughter in 1583 and twins- a boy and a girl- in 1585. The boy however, eventually did not live.

The age of Shakespeare was a great time in English history. The reign of Elizabeth, from 1558 to 1603, saw England emerge as the leading naval and commercial power of the Western world. Elizabeth I\'s England consolidated its position with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and firmly established the Church of England. Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh sent colonists eastward in search of profit. In trade, might, and art, England established an envious preeminence.
At this time, London was the heart of England, reflecting all the vibrant qualities of the Elizabethan Age. It was in this atmosphere that London became a leading center of culture as well as commerce. Its dramatists and poets were among the leading literary artists of the daythis is the environment in which Shakespeare lived and wrote.

In the 1580\'s, the writings of the University Wits defined the London theatre. Though grounded in medieval/Jacobean roots, men such as Marlowe, Greene, Lyly, Kyd, and Peele, produced new dramas and comedies using Marlowe\'s styling of blank verse. Shakespeare outdid them all; he combined the best traits of Elizabethan drama with classical sources, enriching the admixture with his imagination and wit.

Shakespeare apparently arrived in London around 1588 and by 1592 had gained success as an actor and a playwright. Shortly after that, he secured the business of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl of Southampton. The publication of Shakespeare\'s two poems Venus and Adonis in 1593, and The Rape of Lucrece in 1594, and some of his Sonnets, published in 1609, established a reputation for him as a talented and popular Renaissance poet. Shakespeare\'s modern reputation is based mainly on the 38 plays that he wrote, modified, and collaborated on. When in his days, these plays frequently had little respect by his educated friends, who considered English plays of their own to be only tasteless entertainment.

Shakespeare\'s professional life in London was marked by a number of financially beneficial arrangements that allowed him to share in the profits of his acting company, the Chamberlain\'s Men, later called the King\'s Men.