Shakespeare Facts for Kids

 William Shakespeare is one of the most famous people to have ever lived! Let’s find out why with our Shakespeare facts for kids.

1
Who was William Shakespeare?

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare. Photo © Phillip Dvorak / Getty Images
  • William Shakespeare was the world’s greatest writer. He is most famous for writing plays, but he also wrote poetry.
  • Although he died more than 400 years ago, his plays are still performed worldwide in every country of the world. He also studied in nearly every school, college and university.
  • He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in England before moving to London to become an actor and writer. By the time he moved back to Stratford at the end of his life, he was rich!
  • Shakespeare’s face is one of the most recognized images in the world.

2
What are Shakespeare’s Most Famous Plays?

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Photo © Last Resort / Getty Images
  • Romeo and Juliet: This is the ultimate love story. Set in Italy, the story follows a boy called Romeo and a girl called Juliet who fall in love. However, they are from two families that hate each other! So they decide to sneak off and get married in secret. It all goes wrong when Romeo and Juliet die, and the families are forced to make friends.
  • Hamlet: After the death of his father, Prince Hamlet is finding life hard. One night, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears and tells Hamlet that he was murdered by Claudius ... who killed him to become King! Hamlet is unsure what to do, but eventually hatches a plan to prove that Claudius is guilty of the murder and kill him ... but it all goes wrong and EVERYONE ends up dead!
  • Macbeth: This play is about a Scottish soldier who visits three witches. They tell him that he will become king. With the help of his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan (and many others) and becomes King. It doesn’t last long though, when an army arrives to kill off the evil Macbeth!

3
What was Shakespeare’s Theater Like?

Wooden O – Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Wooden O – Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Photo © John Tramper
  • Theaters were very different in Shakespeare’s  time than today.
  • In 1598, Shakespeare and his company built a new round theater called the Globe. 
  • The poor people stood up and the rich people sat on the wooden seats that formed the large round theatre. Unlike today, the audience were never quiet – they shouted, booed and cheered all the way through the shows.
  • There were no lights, so plays were performed in daytime only, normally just after lunch.
  • Girls were not allowed to act on stage, so even the female roles were played by boys in dresses.

4
How Are Shakespeare’s Play’s Written?

Artwork from 'Der mann, der Shakespeare hiess'. Photo © NYPL Digital Gallery
  • Shakespeare wrote in everyday, easy-to-understand speech ... the problem is that people used to speak very differently 400 years ago. This sometimes makes Shakespeare’s plays difficult to read today, but they wouldn’t have been difficult to understand 400 years ago.
  • Shakespeare invented many phrases that we still use today, including “heart of gold”, “it’s Greek to me”, “too much of a good thing” and “wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve”.
  • Shakespeare also brought over 3000 words into the English language, many of which we still use today, including “bloody”, “laughable” and “amazement”.

5
How did Shakespeare Die?

Shakespeare's Grave
Shakespeare's Grave. Photo © Lee Jamieson
  • Shakespeare died in 1916 on his birthday, 23 April. He was 52.
  • He was buried inside Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. You can still visit his grave and read the curse that he had engraved on the stone: “Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”
  • He died at home (the biggest house in Stratford-upon-Avon) but we don’t know exactly what he did from. Some think he caught a fever after drinking with friends, others think he might have been ill for many weeks.