His birthplace was the small market town of Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
From the age of four he attended school and learned how to read and write. He would have left school when he was fifteen.
When he was 18 years old, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was the daughter of a local farmer and 8 years older than Shakespeare.
Audiences enjoyed the bawdy humour and liked the happy endings. Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne during this time.
In terms of his career as a writer, historians are unsure of what Shakespeare did until 1592. It was this year that William was described as an up-and-coming playwright. By this time, Shakespeare had already left his family to live in London.
The playwriting stopped for two years, between 1592 and 1594, when the London playhouses had to close because of the plague - a disease which killed many thousands of people.
Shakespeares plays made them feel proud about their country. During this time, Shakespeare wrote nine plays that had English history as their theme.
In the early 1600s, Shakespeare wrote the tragedies Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth. Macbeth was written to please the new king who was from Scotland. Romeo and Juliet is also written during this period.
The first play set in Rome was Julius Caesar, closely followed by Antony and Cleopatra.
Queen Elizabeth I died on 24 March 1603. King James I became the new monarch. He also became the patron of Shakespeare's theatre company.
In 1611, after he wrote the play The Tempest, Shakespeare returned to live in Stratford-upon-Avon. He moved into a house he had bought for his family in 1597.