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Detailed timeline by Terry Gray

Shakespeare's Life

Modern scholars don't know all the details of Shakespeare's life, but they have some facts and some educated guesses. The approximate or estimated dates are marked with an asterisk (*).

Born April 23, 1564*
Christened April 26, 1564
Married to Anne Hathaway November 28, 1582
First child, Susanna, christened May 26, 1583
Twins, Hamnet & Judith, christened February 2, 1585
Venus and Adonis published 1593
Lucrece published 1594
Globe Theatre opened 1599
Globe Theatre burned down 1613
Shakespeare died April 23, 1616
The First Folio published 1623


Shakespeare sets his comedies and tragedies in far-off places, Italy being a favorite of his. Geographical details weren't important, and his plays contain several errors in geography. Nonetheless, it can be fun to hunt down the locations where he sets many of his plays. These maps are simple, but they show most of the settings for his plays. The map of Great Britain shows some of the important settings for his history plays.

Map of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea: small (15KB) big (52KB)

Map of Great Britain: small (15KB) big (44KB)

The Plays

Shakespeare wrote or collaborated on about 38 plays, but modern scholars dispute the exact number. The First Folio contained 36 of them. Pericles appeared later, and many "complete" works include those 37 plays. Outside of English literature departments, those 37 plays represent the complete canon of Shakespeare's plays. Nonetheless, moderns scholars agree that Shakespeare collaborated with Fletcher in writing Two Noble Kinsmen, bringing the total to 38 plays. Some complete works now include Two Noble Kinsmen. Some scholars argue that Shakespeare also participated in writing Edward III, too.

The First Folio divided the plays into the categories: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. A few editors move a few plays into a fourth category: Romances. A few plays are difficult to categorize and depend on how you define "comedy," "tragedy," and so forth. The table below shows the most common grouping of the plays:

Comedies Histories Tragedies
All's Well That Ends Well King John Antony & Cleopatra
As You Like It King Richard II Coriolanus
Comedy of Errors King Henry IV, Part 1 Hamlet
Cymbeline King Henry IV, Part 2 Julius Caesar
Love's Labour's Lost King Henry V King Lear
Measure for Measure King Henry VI, Part 1 Macbeth
Merchant of Venice King Henry VI, Part 2 Othello
Merry Wives of Windsor King Henry VI, Part 3 Romeo and Juliet
Midsummer Night's Dream King Richard III Timon of Athens
Much Ado About Nothing King Henry VIII Titus Andronicus
Pericles, Prince of Tyre    
Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Two Noble Kinsmen
Winter's Tale