William Shakespeare  

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"All the world's a stage"--As You Like It (1603) by Shakespeare

"There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."--Hamlet

To be, or not to be

"Shakespeare was bowdlerized between 1807 and 1818 when The Family Shakespeare is published, expurgating 'those words and expressions... which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family.'" --Sholem Stein

"We do not know whether the study of the humanities, of the noblest that has been said and thought, can do very much to humanize. We do not know; and surely there is something rather terrible in our doubt whether the study and delight a man finds in Shakespeare make him any less capable of organizing a concentration camp." --"To Civilize Our Gentlemen" (1965) by George Steiner

"We must remind ourselves that Shakespeare, who scarcely relies upon philosophy, is more central to Western culture than are Plato and Aristotle, Kant and Hegel, Heidegger and Wittgenstein." --The Western Canon (1994), Harold Bloom, p. 10


"No one has matched [Shakespeare] as psychologist, thinker, or rhetorician. Wittgenstein, who resented Freud, nevertheless resembles Freud in his suspicious and defensive reaction to Shakespeare, who is an affront to the philosopher even as he is to the psychoanalyst." --The Western Canon (1994), Harold Bloom, p. 10

Given enough time, a chimpanzee punching at random on a typewriter would almost surely type out all of Shakespeare's plays.  Photo: Chimpanzee Typing (1907) - New York Zoological Society
Given enough time, a chimpanzee punching at random on a typewriter would almost surely type out all of Shakespeare's plays.
Photo: Chimpanzee Typing (1907) - New York Zoological Society

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William Shakespeare (baptised April 26 1564 – died April 23 1616) was an English poet and playwright widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language, and as the world's preeminent dramatist. However, the playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw mocked the cult of Shakespeare worship as "bardolatry". He claimed that the new naturalism of Ibsen's plays had made Shakespeare obsolete.



Although William Shakespeare and by extension theater itself is now a highbrow form, this was not so until the nineteenth century. Historian Lawrence Levine articulated Shakespeare's popularity shift this way: "By the turn of the nineteenth century, Shakespeare had been converted from a popular playwright whose dramas were the property of all those who flocked to see them, into a sacred author who had to be protected from ignorant audiences and overbearing actors threatening the integrity of his creations."


Around 150 years after Shakespeare's death, doubts began to emerge about the authorship of Shakespeare's works. Alternative candidates proposed include Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. Although all alternative candidates are almost universally rejected in academic circles, popular interest in the subject, particularly the Oxfordian theory, has continued into the 21st century.

Canonical plays

The plays are here according to the order in which they are given in the First Folio of 1623. Plays marked with an asterisk (*) are now commonly referred to as the 'romances'. Plays marked with two asterisks (**) are sometimes referred to as the 'problem plays'.




See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "William Shakespeare" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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