Facts About Shakespeare

A Shakespeare "Crib Sheet"

The Cobbe portrait of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), c1610
Heritage Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Facts about Shakespeare can sometimes be hard to find! To help you sort the fact from the speculation, we’ve put together a Shakespeare “crib sheet” … a single reference page packed with facts – and only facts – about Shakespeare.

The links are there to help you delve deeper into the subject.

Key Facts About Shakespeare

  • If we accept the dates, Shakespeare was born and died on the same day – in fact Shakespeare’s death occurred on his 52nd birthday!

Facts About Shakespeare’s Life

  • Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, but later moved to London for work
  • Shakespeare had three children with his wife, Anne Hathaway
  • When he left for London, Shakespeare left his family behind in Stratford. He did, however, retire back to Stratford at the end of his career
  • There is evidence that Shakespeare was a “secret” Catholic
  • By the end of his life, Shakespeare was a wealthy gentleman and had a coat of arms. His final residence was New Place, the largest house in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Shakespeare was buried inside Holy Trinity Church in Stratford
  • Shakespeare’s grave has a curse engraved upon it
  • Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrated worldwide every year. The main festival is in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saint George’s Day

    Facts About Shakespeare’s Time

    Facts About Shakespeare’s Plays

    • Shakespeare’s plays are split into three genres: tragedy, comedy and history
    • Hamlet is often regarded as the Bard’s best play
    • Romeo and Juliet is often regarded as the Bard’s most famous play
    • Shakespeare may have co-authored many of his plays

    Facts About Shakespeare’s Sonnets

    Facts About Shakespeare’s Theatre

    • The theatre experience in Shakespeare’s time was very different to today – crowds would eat and talk through the production and plays would be performed in the open air
    • The Globe Theatre was made from the materials of a stolen theatre that Shakespeare’s theatre company dismantled at midnight and floated across the Thames River
    • Shakespeare described the Globe Theatre as the “Wooden O” because of its shape
    • The original Globe Theatre was demolished to make way for tenements in 1644 when it fell out of use
    • The building that currently stands in London is a replica built from traditional materials and techniques. It is not on the original site, but very close to it!
    • Today, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is the World’s leading producer of Shakespeare and is headquartered in the Bard’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon