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William Shakespeare’s Life & Times


In his 52 years of life William Shakespeare transformed himself from the son of a small-town glovemaker to a favorite playwright of Queen Elizabeth and King James. Today he is celebrated as the most popular writer in the English language. Read on to explore our comprehensive guide to Shakespeare's world, including his early life, marriage, social context and best-known quotes.


Explore Shakespeare's life, from his humble beginnings to his triumph in London and the family tragedies that may have informed his plays.

Historical Context

Read about Shakespeare's relationship with the church, the government, his peers and rivals, and discover how those ideas are reflected in his work.

    Social Context

    Explore ideas about women, minorities, and sexuality in Elizabethan England, and learn how those attitudes are reflected in Shakespeare's work.

    Top 10 Shakespeare Quotes

    Browse the most well-known and often-quotes lines from Shakespeare's work, and learn what other famous historical figures have borrowed them.

    Plays by Genre

    Explore Shakespeare's plays by genre and understand the differences between his comedies, tragedies, romances, and history plays.


    Read about the background, context, and style of Shakespeare's poetry.


    Browse a list of common terms associated with the publication, form, and style of Shakespeare's work, including prose, verse, and iambic pentameter.

    Shakespeare's Language

    From “anon” to “yelping,” browse a list of words commonly used by Shakespeare, including the hundreds he invented.