Table of Contents | Introduction | About the Author

William Shakespeare is considered perhaps the finest dramatist of all times which explains the interest in his works and life.

He lived during the Elizabethan period of history, named in honor of Queen Elizabeth who ruled during much of this time. King James succeeded her and continued her interest in the arts. During this period, England, particularly London, had a rebirth of interest in the arts and sciences known as the Renaissance.

Shakespeare was probably born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-on-Avon, a small village in England. His parents were John and Mary Arden Shakespeare. He studied Latin and Greek at the local grammar school. At 18 he married Anne Hathaway, and they had three children, Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith.

Sometime after 1854, he went to London. There he earned his living as a playwright, an actor, a poet, and a theatre owner.

He performed with a group known as Lord Chamberlain's Company, later called The King's Men when they were taken under the protection of King James. One of the more difficult times for these actors was the period 1592-94 during which the theatres were closed as a result of the plague. Shakespeare used this time to write poetry.

He returned to Stratford and his family in 1616 and died there on April 23, his 52nd birthday.

As a playwright, he wrote approximately 37 plays. They are divided into four categories: histories, tragedies, comedies, and the problem plays sometimes called tragi-comedies because they do not fit well into either category. These plays were first printed in the form of quartos which are defined as books created from folding paper into fourths. In 1623, his complete plays were compiled and published by John Heminge and Henry Condell in the form of a folio which is defined as a book created from folding paper into halves (or folds).


Shakespearean Plays


  • Henry VI (parts 1, 2, 3)           
  • Richard III
  • King Henry IV (parts 1, 2)       
  • Henry VIII
  • King Henry V  
  • Richard II
  • Antony and Cleopatra  
  • King John
  • Coriolanus       
  • Julius Caesar (tragedy)


  • Hamlet Othello
  • King Lear        
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Romeo and Juliet         
  • Macbeth


  • Comedy of Errors        
  • Love's Labor's Lost
  • Much Ado about Nothing        
  • As You Like It
  • Twelfth Night    Merry Wives of Windsor
  • The Taming of the Shrew         
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • A Midsummer's Night's Dream           
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Troilus and Cressida    
  • All's Well that Ends Well
  • Measure for Measure

Problem Plays/Tragi-Comedies-5

  • Timon of Athens          
  • Cymbeline
  • The Winter's Tale        
  • The Tempest
  • Pericles

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