Born to John Shakespeare, a glovemaker and tradesman, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent farmer, William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon. At that time, infants were baptized three days after their birth, thus scholars believe that Shakespeare was born on April 23, the same day on which he died at age 52. As the third of eight children, young William grew up in thissmall town 100 miles northwest of London, far from the cultural and courtly center of England.
Shakespeare attended the local grammar school, King's New School, where the curriculum would have stressed a classical education of Greek mythology, Roman comedy, ancient history, rhetoric, grammar, Latin, and possibly Greek. Throughout his childhood, Shakespeare's father struggled with serious financial debt. Therefore, unlike his fellow playwright
, he did not attend university. Rather, in 1582 at age 18, he married Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior and three months pregnant. Their first child, Susanna, was born in 1583, and twins, Hamnet and Judith, came in 1585. In the seven years following their birth, the historical record concerning Shakespeare is incomplete, contradictory, and unreliable; scholars refer to this period as his “lost years.”
In a 1592 pamphlet by Robert Greene, Shakespeare reappears as an “upstart crow” flapping his poetic wings