Shakespeare’s Enduring Legacy: Unveiling the Genius and Impact

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Updated: Aug 16, 2023
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Shakespeare: The Iconic Bard

Shakespeare is a name that is known by just about everyone. At the mention of his name, there are many that would sing about his achievements from the highest mountain proclaiming to everyone what a genius he was. There are also those that would rather throw themselves off the nearest cliff than have to be reminded of those horrible high school days of reading and learning about Shakespeare. However, no one can deny that he was one of the greatest writers and playwrights of not only his time but our time as well.

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Early Life and Family

Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford, and not a lot is known about his childhood, but he was believed to have gone to a grammar school for his education. A grammar school is a secondary school that offers an academic course in preparation for university entrance and for the professions, generally consisting mostly of Latin studies—learning to read, write, and speak the language fairly well and studying some of the Classical historians, moralists, and poets. His father was a leather merchant, and his mother was a local landed heiress. Instead of going to university, however, Shakespeare got married to a woman named Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway was 26 at the time of the marriage, and Shakespeare was 18. Their first child, a daughter named Susanna, was born not too long after the marriage, with their second and third child, a pair of twins they named Judith and Hamnet. Unfortunately, one of the twins, Hamnet, died at the very young age of eleven from unknown causes. The next eight years after the birth of the twins have been lost to history as to what Shakespeare did. There have been many speculations, but none of them have had solid proof or records that they happened.

A Flourishing Career with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men

But Shakespeare made his reappearance into history as a dramatist that was a part of the group known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men was a very famous group of actors and was a favorite of many. There was an actor that had a very good reputation named Richard Burbage and was known as the best actor of his time. Performances by The Chamberlains were done in the most famous theatrical theater to this date, the Globe. Early in 1599, Shakespeare paid into the coffers of the company a sum of money amounting to twelve-point-five percent of the cost of building the Globe. He did so as a chief shareholder in the company and, by doing so, helped establish a successful form of commercial operation for the actors of that time.

The Chamberlain didn’t always have their home as the Globe. Their original home was the Shoreditch’s theater, and over the years, the Chamberlain’s Men played many of Shakespeare’s most famous plays on this stage. However, in 1596 the lease for the property on which the Theatre was built expired, and the Chamberlain’s Men tried to negotiate an extension with the owner, Giles Allen. But not only did Allen refuse to renew the lease, he threatened to take possession of the theater as well. The dispute dragged on for two years, during which time the company performed at the nearby Curtain playhouse. It was at Curtain Theatre that Shakespeare debuted what is arguably one of his most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet.

When it became clear that Giles Allen wasn’t going to give back the land, the Chamberlain’s Men leased a new plot by the Thames, and on December 28, 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, the men stole into the Theatre and carefully tore it down. A talented carpenter named Peter Street, who would later build another historic London theater named Fortune Playhouse, recycled the old pieces of wood into an astonishing new theatre—the Globe, capable of holding up to 3,000 spectators.

Shakespeare’s Legacy in Literature

Shakespeare continued to live his life as a playwright and a poet till the die he died. April 1616 was when Shakespeare breathed his last. In his will, he left a large bulk of his possessions to his eldest daughter Susanna. For his wife Anne, however, he did not leave much at all, giving her the “second-best bed.”
Now that Shakespeare’s life is out of the way, we can focus on his works. Shakespeare has thirty-seven plays, one-hundred-and-fifty-four sonnets, and five narrative poems that have survived throughout the years. Every one of them has been important in the forming of the English language as we know it today. He has invented around seventeen-thousand words that are used even now. Some of his most impressive work is his plays.

Just about everyone knows at least one of Shakespeare’s plays, either because they were forced to read it in high school, forced to listen to someone complain about being forced to read it in high school, or just genuinely interested in his works. The point is that everyone has heard of one, whether it be the heart-wrenching double suicide of the two famous lovers Romeo and Juliet or the fall of the prince of Denmark, Hamlet, as he gets his revenge for his father’s murder. The genius of his plots is still recognized today, and his plays are still performed, with many coming to watch them.

What is considered one of the best plays he’s ever written is Hamlet, which has been performed many different times and in many ways throughout the years.  To give a short summary of Hamlet, it starts with Hamlet’s father, the old king, telling Hamlet that he had been wrongfully murdered by his brother, Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle. Claudius had managed to take the throne after killing Hamlet Sr by marrying his sister-in-law Gertrude. The story goes on, and eventually, after just about everyone else dies in the crossfire of the conflict, Hamlet manages to kill Claudius, but not without being poisoned first. In the end, both Hamlet and Claudius are dead, with Hamlet telling his best friend, Horatio, to tell the world his story. All the little details and things that happen along the way in the play make the whole story complete and go to show how wonderful a writer Shakespeare was.

Shakespeare has earned his way into one of English Literature’ most amazing people, and we still have a lot to learn from him. Some people say that they don’t like Shakespeare, but when you really think about it, it’s not Shakespeare they hate; it’s the flowery language.

Works Cited

  1. Bevington, David, et al. “William Shakespeare.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., October 20, 2018,
  2. Kaushik. “The Theater That Shakespeare Stole.” Amusing Planet, April 19. 2018,
    “William Shakespeare.”, A&E Networks Television, December 11, 2018,
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Shakespeare's Enduring Legacy: Unveiling the Genius and Impact. (2023, Aug 16). Retrieved from