More is known about Shakespeare than any other professional dramatist of his time. Some of the established facts are detailed below and further information may be found in the standard biographies and bibliographies. A useful summary is included in the General Introduction to the Complete Works, edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988). A timeline is available at Terry Gray's website Mr William Shakespeare and the Internet. If you are coming to Stratford with a group, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's Education Department can arrange a lecture for you on Shakespeare's life and times.
'Shakespeare's Stratford' by Dr Pat Hughes, 1994.
William Shakespeare was born in 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon. Located in the centre of England, the town was (and still is) an important river-crossing settlement and market centre. The register of Stratford's Holy Trinity Church records Shakespeare's baptism on 26 April. He is traditionally said to have been born on 23 April.
His father, John, trained as a glove-maker and married Mary Arden, the daughter of Robert Arden, a farmer from the nearby village of Wilmcote. John and Mary set up home in Henley Street, Stratford, in the house now known as Shakespeare's Birthplace .
John Shakespeare was a prominent citizen, serving on the town council for many years and becoming Bailiff, or Mayor, in 1568. Besides his craft as a glover, he traded as a wool dealer and was also involved in money-lending.
John and Mary lost two children before William was born. They had five more children, another of whom died young.
Shakespeare's School Room, King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon.
As the son of a leading townsman, William almost certainly attended Stratford's 'petty' or junior school before progressing, perhaps at the age of seven, to the Grammar School, which still stands. The...