William Shakespeare Questions and Answers

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What is the full name of William Shakespeare? Who are his siblings?

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Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Enough historical evidence exists to prove that the full name of the poet and playwright now known to be one of the world's greatest dramatists was William Shakespeare. That was his true name. He was born some time in 1564, although the exact date remains uncertain. He was the third child of a leather merchant named John Shakespeare and a landed heiress named Mary Arden. His two older sisters, who died young, were Judith and Joan, and his five younger siblings were Richard, Gilbert, Joan, Anne, and Edmund. These names and the year of his birth can be verified by various written records, including government records and church records from Holy Trinity Church at Stratford-upon-Avon. Records further show that William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in 1582. They had a daughter, Suzanna, with whom Anne was already pregnant when she and Shakespeare got married, and twins named Hamnet and Judith.

Perhaps the question about Shakespeare's name comes from the controversy that erupted long after his death about whether he wrote the literature that is credited to him or if his name is a pseudonym for someone else. Men that were proposed as the true author of Shakespeare's works included Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere. Detractors claim that Shakespeare's background and education did not qualify him to write such works of genius.

However, most scholars assert that the historical evidence that proves Shakespeare's authorship is overwhelming. His name is inscribed upon all of his works, and there is documentary evidence to support the fact that he was also an actor that appeared under his own name. Other contemporary playwrights and actors, including the famous writer Ben Jonson, mention Shakespeare in written comments and reviews. His works themselves, which have been studied by many scholars, show a continuity of style that does not match the work of other contemporary writers. There is little doubt about the author Shakespeare's works, and his full name was William Shakespeare.

esoppelt eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564. Traditionally his birth date is set at April 23, 1564. His parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. William was the oldest child who lived past infancy. He had two sisters born before him who died as babies. After William the Shakespeares had five more children: Gilbert, Richard, Edmund, Anne and Joan.

Joan was the Shakespeares’ eldest daughter, born in September 1558. She passed away soon after her birth. Their second daughter Margaret was born in December 1562 and died a year later. William was the third child. Gilbert was fourth, born in October of 1566. He worked as a tradesman and died in 1612.  Joan, named for the first daughter they lost, was born in 1569. She lived to be seventy-seven, outliving all of her siblings. Anne was born in 1571 and only lived eight years. Next was Richard, born in March of 1574, who died in 1613. The last Shakespeare sibling was Edmund, born in May 1580. He worked as an actor and died in 1607.

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