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William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616. Unfortunately, little is known about his private life, which has as a result been shrouded in legend and speculation ever since his death. He was born and apparently lived almost thirty years in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the first reference to him as a playwright does not appear in the historical records until 1592, by which point he had moved to London. Shakespeare wrote plays that were performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a troupe that changed its name to the Kings Men when it received a royal patent from the newly-coronated King James I in 1604. Shakespeare was part owner of the Globe Theater on the Thames, as well as Blackfriar's Theater, and was a weatlhy and famous man by the time of James's accession to the throne. Fragmetary evidence suggests that he performed in many of his plays as an actor, though the specific roles he played remain a mystery. He was married to Anne Hathaway, a Stratford woman with whom he had three children, two of whom survived him at his death along with his wife. His son Hamnet died at the age of eleven. His first known works were the historical plays Richard III and Parts 1-3 of Henry VI. His most famous, and most critically successsful tragedies, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth were penned in the early seventeenth century, while many of his more famous comedies, including A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing, date to the mid-1590s. His sonnets were published in 1609. Shakespeare apparently retired to Stratford a few years prior to his death.
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