The Bad is Born

April 23 1564

William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-upon-Avon to John and Mary Arden Shakespeare.


April 26 1564

William Shakespeare is christened at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

Shakespeare Goes to School

1569 - 1578

Shakespeare enters King's New School, an excellent grammar school in Stratford attended by the sons of civil servants like his father. Boys typically enter the school around the age of five, but since no official records survive its impossible to know exactly when Shakespeare starts his education.


November 28 1582

William Shakespeare(18 years old) marries Ann Hathwey(26 years old)

First Child

May 26 1583

Six months after their marriage, the Shakespeare's first child, Susanna, is born and baptized.

Twins Born


The Twins son Hamnet and daughter Judith.
Named after Shakespeare's close friends Hamnet and Judith Sadler.

First actor Group


He joins a group which came to Stratford and travels with them to London.

First Play


Around this time, Shakespeare writes "Henry VI, Part One" his very first play.

Venus and Adonis

April 1593

Shakespeare publishes "Venus and Adonis," his first long published poem. It is dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton.

Theaters Reopen

1594 - 1599

In the spring of 1594, the London theaters reopen to the public which was closed due to an outbreak of bubonic plague that eventually kills about five percent of the city's residents. Over the next five years Shakespeare's troupe, the Chamberlain's Men, becomes one of the most popular acting groups in London. They accept frequent invitations to perform in the royal court of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Rape of Lucrece

May 1594

Shakespeare publishes "The Rape of Lucrece," also dedicated to the Earl of Southampton. Shakespeare purchases shares in the Chamberlain's Men.

Death of Hamnet

August 11 1596

William and Anne bury their only son, Hamnet, who dies at the age of 11 of unknown causes.

New Home

May 1597

Wealthy thanks to his theater work and shrewd investments, Shakespeare buys New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford.

Shakespeare Praised


Writer Francis Meres publishes a glowing review of Shakespeare's work. Thanks to Meres' review, we know that by this time Shakespeare has become a noted playwright with at least a dozen plays under his belt, including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Love's Labors Lost, Richard II and Titus Andronicus.



Shakespeare's father dies and his patron Earl Southampton is sentenced to death (later reprieved) for his role in the Essex rebellion. It is believed that his father's death motivates Shakespeare to write Hamlet around this time. Shakespeare's plays over the next few years take a dark, brooding tone.

Return to Stratford

1611 - 1613

Shakespeare leaves London and moves back to Stratford, where his wife and married daughters live. (The exact date of this move remains in some dispute, with historians placing it anywhere between 1610 and 1613.)

Final Plays


Shakespeare composes his final plays— Henry VIII, Two Noble Kinsmen (possibly written in 1614), and the now-lost Cardenio—in collaboration with John Fletcher, replacement playwright for the King's Men. The Globe catches fire during a performance of Henry VIII and burns to the ground.

Last Will

March 25 1616

An ailing Shakespeare calls his lawyer to revise his will, making some odd changes that include leaving his "second-best bed" to his wife and £10 to the poor.

Shakespeare Dies

April 23 1616

Sufferning from an unknown illness, William Shakespeare dies on his 52nd birthday.


April 25 1616

Shakespeare is buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, the same church where he was baptized. His marker orders a curse on anyone who disturbs his grave.