Throughout human history, a small number of creative individuals have left a mark on the world that will last forever — arguably none more than William Shakespeare. He was the third of eight children born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, in Stratford-upon-Avon. He possibly moved to the capital of England allegedly fleeing a charge of deer poaching. He gained entry to the city’s performing arts culture by working as sort of valet for play attendees, caring for their horses while they watched the latest works of celebrated writers.
By 1592, however, Shakespeare was clearly an active participant, with his plays. Within two years, he was one of the chief performers and primary partners in Lord Chamberlain’s Men, an acting company. By 1597, 15 plays written by William Shakespeare were published. Civil records show that at this time he purchased the second largest house in Stratford, called New House, for his family. It was a four-day ride by horse from Stratford to London, so it is believed that Shakespeare spent most of his time in the city writing and acting and came home once a year during the 40-day Lenten period. By 1599, William Shakespeare and his business partners built their own theater on the south bank of the Thames River, which they called the Globe. In 1605, Shakespeare purchased leases of real estate near Stratford, which doubled in value which made him an entrepreneur as well as an artist. These investments gave him the time to write his plays uninterrupted.
Beyond the artistic range of influence his 38 plays and 154 sonnets have had, Shakespeare can in some ways be credited as a father of modern English: according to scholars, as many as 1,700 words and phrases in common use today can be attributed to the text of his writings — even everyday words such as “hint” and “bedroom.” His plays Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, are considered some of the finest works in the English language. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.