William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616)[nb 1] was an Englishpoet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon".[nb 2] His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays,[nb 3] 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, two epitaphs on a man named John Combe, one epitaph on Elias James, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He spent his early life in Stratford-upon-Avon, receiving at most a grammar-school education, and at age 18 he married a local woman, Anne Hathaway. By 1594 he was apparently a rising playwright in London and an actor in a leading theatre company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later King's Men); the company performed at the Globe Theatre from 1599. The order in which his plays were written and performed is highly uncertain. His earliest plays seem to date from the late 1580s to the mid-1590s and include the comedies Love's Labour's Lost, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night's Dream; history plays based on the lives of the English kings, including Henry VI (parts 1, 2, and 3), Richard III, and Richard II; and the tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The plays apparently written between 1596 and 1600 are mostly comedies, including The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It, and histories, including Henry IV (parts 1 and 2), Henry V, and Julius Caesar.
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