DEAD: William Shakespeare

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

William Shakespeare (aged 52)
English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”. His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays,154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

DEATH: Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, at the age of 52.He died within a month of signing his will, a document which he begins by describing himself as being in “perfect health”. No extant contemporary source explains how or why he died. Half a century later, John Ward, the vicar of Stratford, wrote in his notebook: “Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted”, not an impossible scenario since Shakespeare knew Jonson and Drayton. Of the tributes from fellow authors, one refers to his relatively sudden death: “We wondered, Shakespeare, that thou went’st so soon / From the world’s stage to the grave’s tiring room.”

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