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Celebrating Shakespeare

Anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, death

(CNN) -- He is considered by most to be the greatest writer ever. William Shakespeare, the English dramatist and poet, left behind at least three dozen plays -- from comedies to histories to tragedies -- that have not only stood the test of time, but have influenced generation upon generation of humankind.

Among post-Shakespeare poets, writers, scholars and leaders, the thinking is simple: everything has been written, most of it by the bard from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, the son of a Stratford businessman. In 1582, he married Anne Hathaway; the couple had three children. Little else is known about Shakespeare until 1592, when he moved to London and appeared as a playwright with the farce, "The Comedy of Errors."

A list of Shakespeare's works
Clintons honor poetry at White House event

The bard was remembered for mastering that art the way no one else has done. What present-day directors, writers, and actors will be remembered 300-400 years from now?

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By 1594, the bard created the ultimate tragic love story, "Romeo and Juliet". The play displayed Shakespeare's maturing talent with verse, as well as the style that would help define him: the tragedy.

Nearing the end of the 16th century, Shakespeare wrote the comedies "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Much Ado About Nothing" as he switched his focus to histories marked by misfortune.

Shakespeare then began his run of major tragedies, penning "Julius Caesar" (1599-1600), "Hamlet" (1600-1601), "Othello" (1604-1605), and "Macbeth" (1605-1606), while still finding time for comedies like "All's Well That Ends Well" (1602-1603).

Each Shakespeare classic stands alone as a monument to the unachievable for most writers. Viewed as a collection his work only reinforces the concept of unparalleled talent.

Shakespeare's poetry was equally majestic, with his major achievement being "Sonnets", published in 1609.

And his influence is still seen today, from festivals dedicated to his name to the endless stream of Shakespeare adaptations from Hollywood. Perhaps most interesting is the recent debate over whether or not Shakespeare actually authored the plays he is credited with.

Shakespeare retired to Stratford in 1613. He had prospered financially from his works, owning property in both London and Stratford, as well as a share in the Globe Theater.

Shakespeare died in 1616 on the same date he was born.

His tombstone reads: "Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare, To digg the dust enclosed heare. Blese be ye man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones."


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