William Shakespeare was born in April of 1564. There is no specific date of birth because at that time the only date of importance was the date of baptism, though infants often were baptized when they were three days old. Shakespeare's baptismal date was April 26, 1564.
Shakespeare was born in the village of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. At the time of his birth, the village had a population of 1500 people, and only 200 houses. Shakespeare's father came from a family of yeomen, and he gained many prestigious positions in the community. Shakespeare's mother came from an ancient family of landed gentry. The whole family was Anglican. The family's financial situation was well off. Not much information is known about Shakespeare's youth, although undoubtedly he was educated in the local school, where he studied Latin and Greek, among other subjects, during a school day that often lasted from dawn to dusk Shakespeare's first exposure to the theatre probably occurred when he was young. As a child his father probably took him to see plays when travelling troupes of actors came to town, although that was not often.
Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway in 1582, when he was 18; she was 26, eight years his senior. The exact wedding date is uncertain, but the marriage certificate was issued on November 27, 1582. William and Anne had their first child, Susanna, in May of 1583. This was followed by the birth of twins, Hamnet and Judith, in January of 1585. Most historians believe that Shakespeare was not often around his family in Stratford after that because historical records show him in London during the following years.
The first written reference to Shakespeare's existence in London occurred in 1592, when Shakespeare was in his late twenties. He seems to have been fairly well established in the theatre by that point, since the reference, written by another playwright, hints of jealousy at Shakespeare's success.
With his two patrons, the Earls of South Hampton and Pembrooke, Shakespeare rose quickly in the theatre as both an actor and an author. He joined the Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company which was protected by the Queen, becoming a shareholder and senior member in 1595. Because of his success in London, he was able to purchase New Place, the largest and most elegant house in his home town of Stratford, when he was in his early thirties (1597).
In addition to his popularity as both an actor and playwright, Shakespeare became joint owner of the famous Globe theatre when it opened in 1599. His share of the company's management added heavily to his wealth.
Shakespeare's financial success in the London theatre enabled him to retire and return to his home in Stratford around 1610. He lived there comfortably until his death on April 23, 1616 (it is popularly believed that he died on his birthday). He is buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Though Shakespeare is most closely associated with the Elizabethan period, his career can be categorized as both Elizabethan and Jacobean, as several works were completed after James I became king in 1603.