He was the greatest writer in the English language and is known around the world. But how much do you really know about William Shakespeare and his life?

William Shakespeare was a poet and a playwright and is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, in central England, in 1564 and he died in 1616. His surviving work consists of 38 plays, 154 sonnets and some other poems. He is best known for his plays, which have been translated into every major language and are performed more than those of any other playwright in the world.

When William Shakespeare was 18 years old he married Anne Hathaway, and they had three children. Shakespeare went to London to work as an actor and a writer. In 1599 the Globe Theatre was built in London and it was in this theatre, situated on the banks of the River Thames, that some of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. In 1613 the theatre was destroyed by a fire. However, a modern reconstruction of the theatre was built near the original site in 1997 so even today you can go to the Globe Theatre to see one of Shakespeare's plays.

Shakespeare’s work is still very popular today. But why do we like these old plays? Perhaps it is because they all contain fantastic stories. His characters suffer bloody battles, deaths by poison, huge family fights, problems between brothers and sisters, problems between parents and children ... The plays are also full of parties, weddings and funerals. They are quite simply action-packed.

Here is a selection of Shakespeare’s plays. Maybe you’ve seen some of them.

The Merchant of Venice

This play is about the idea that people usually get what they deserve in the end, good or bad. Antonio, a businessman, borrows money from Shylock, a money lender. If he doesn’t pay back this money in time, Shylock will cut off a piece of his body. Antonio loses all his business and must pay this terrible price … but is saved by love.


This play is about revenge and also about how difficult it is to take action sometimes, even when it is important. Hamlet’s father is murdered by another man, who then marries Hamlet’s mother. Everybody wants to see Hamlet dead. Hamlet must take revenge, but will he be able to? The famous quotation ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’ comes from this play.

As You Like It

This play is a comedy about romantic love. There is a battle between two evil brothers and two good brothers. People hide in a beautiful forest. They fall in love, women disguise themselves as men, and there are many jokes, songs and games.

Henry V

This is a history play about a famous English king, and a famous battle, Agincourt. We watch the preparations for the battle, the fighting and the results. There are questions in this play: why do men fight? What are wars? Are they glorious or terrible?

Which play would you like to see?

Total votes: 219


What do you think about Shakespeare? Which of his plays would you most like to see in the theatre?


Youjiro's picture
Youjiro 5 March, 2019 - 08:57

His is genius .It is no doubt.I well known best writer all over the world as well as best seller book.also He is remarkable writer in history.His book teach us age that he survive.

1 user has voted.
slmp's picture
slmp 16 March, 2018 - 21:15

Although I haven't really acquainted myself with Shakepeare's plays or sonnets apart from the ones we read at school, I think that Shakespeare is one of the most interesting English writer who can really describe emotions and feelings authentically. When you read his scripts you can almost feel like visiting the era of Shakespeare.

2 users have voted.
Ugandan_Knuckles's picture
Ugandan_Knuckles 9 March, 2018 - 15:13

Shakespeare is a genius, he shows in his plays some themes who is still present today, like : Love, Money. Power, How people think in his centuary. We think that he still relevent in our days, because his plays evolves with time, more than that, he teaches us how was the life in his centuary, and how much all those themes evolved.
The plays I want to see in a theater, is "Hamlet". It's a really interessting story, because it shows to us, a story about the "wanted" power, how people can do for there ideas.

1 user has voted.
shake's picture
shake 18 March, 2018 - 11:04

According to me Shakespeare is still relevant 400 years later. Across time, space, and culture his heritage still resonates so deeply today. First, his themes are universal and his plays have been adapted so many times. Second, his language is so imagery that our modern adaptations can make his heritage even more accessible. Finally, the mix of genres and the impression of harmony experienced through nature, despite social constraints, enable to go beyond ancient representations and old black and white schemes. What I appreciate in Romeo and Juliet for example is the progressive physical approach and rising spiritual love conveyed by the sonnet.

2 users have voted.
sona's picture
sona 4 June, 2016 - 14:23

Shakespeare is undoubtely the most gifted writer in the world. He has written plays,sonnets,that have resisted for 5 centuries,because they describe things which are actual in our modern world. Even though,our world has changed in a massive way compared to the world before 5 centuries,people's charasteristics are the same,even why not in the same conditions. Love was,is and will be the most powerful thing in the world. Some people think that 'Romeo and Juliet' play doesn't approve this,but I don't think so;their love has continued in the other world,breaking all the barriers. Eager for power has also accompanied mankind in all ages,as written in Shakespeare plays. This facts have effect in their success around the world for all ages.

48 users have voted.
gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 11 February, 2016 - 07:13

In our Literature textbook, we only learn about Robinson Cruso, so I do not know much about Shakepear's works. Personally, I tend to think of Emily Bronte when someone mentions to UK literature.

51 users have voted.
Silvermist's picture
Silvermist 27 November, 2014 - 13:55

Mr. Shakespeare is one of the best dramatist, a pure talented British I've encountered in Literature. I like his Winter's tale, King Lear, Macbeth and The taming of shrew in particular and I would like to see Macbeth in theater if I ever get the chance.

57 users have voted.
Ribana's picture
Ribana 25 October, 2014 - 19:25

I love Shakespeare's Sonnets. I don't have any favourite play, only favourite characters. For example, the most popular play Romeo and Juliet. I think Juliet is just foolish not-even-fourteen-years-old girl who falls in love with another foolish person. Yes, I don't like Romeo either. Mercutio is impolite and rude. The only person I like is Benvolio. He is quite quiet and nice. And I don't care about the other characters

49 users have voted.
Zuzanna's picture
Zuzanna 12 July, 2014 - 16:36

I like his play. Some time ago I read ,,Hamlet" and ,,Makbet". Hamlet as character is very interesting person. He believed in a perfect world. But the world has never been really ideal. Hamlet was a dreamer.

43 users have voted.
cklj's picture
cklj 16 February, 2014 - 19:51

I think that Shakespeare is one of the best-known artists in the world. Lots of people admire his works, which are one of the most famous plays in the world. I think that every poet and playwright dreams to be respected, talented and famous as Shakespeare. I'd like to see "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet" and "As You Like It" in the theatre.

63 users have voted.
Natalija's picture
Natalija 24 June, 2013 - 09:47

I'd like to say that I really don't understand why Romeo&Juliet is considered to be Shakespeare's best play ever. I read it, but I wasn't fascinated at all. I mean, it's just about love, unhappiness and sad end. The only good thing is that families Montagi and Capuleti weren't in feud any longer at the end, but Romeo and Juliet's end was quite bad. It's too pathetic, although there're some very nice quotes in the drama. I don't like reading sadness, feuds, lovers split up, with no chances of being together. And it's very silly of them to fall in love and get married in just a few days. The whole drama lasted for 7 days, and for that short time, they managed to meet, get introduced, fall in love, get married, plan elopement and commit suicide. A bit unreal, isn't it? But I guess that in 16th century, when Shakespeare lived, it was quite good for its readers, since the Middle century's literature was just for church, and this kind of play was something you couldn't find every day. And of course, people were less educated, poorer and wanted a change.
I'd like to say there're some other Shakespeare's plays that're much better, like Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. In my opinion, they're much, much better compared to Romeo and Juliet, which is the most popular play in my country, and I guess it's the same in the world. These plays are really amazing, with strong moral message, and they're my fave. Although Hamlet is sad too, I like it for its message, and I think there is no writer like William Shakespeare and there will never be someone like him! He's one in a million!

50 users have voted.
Bosnianchild's picture
Bosnianchild 21 June, 2013 - 19:06

In my country,we don't go in country,except ''culture persons''.I would love to see Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet ;)

53 users have voted.
Lusine's picture
Lusine 14 May, 2013 - 16:22

I really like Shakespeare and everything connected with him: whether it's poems, biography,some plays where he spent most of his life...
I wish to go to the theatre to see some plays...
of course, "Romeo and Juliet' attracts me most of all. but there are some other comedies ,he wrote, which I like too. For instance 'The Taming of the Shrew". exciting, magnificent, breathtaking at the same time!!!
but apart from Shacespare, I also keen on some plays which were wroten by Oscar Wilde. I have recently read on of his in my opinion greatest comedies he wrote-" The importance of being earnest". It' s very

49 users have voted.
Natalija's picture
Natalija 14 May, 2013 - 15:55

I think he's an excellent writer and poet, someone who gave a huge contribution to the world's literature and whose name will be remembered for centuries. The proof is that his plays can be seen today in theatre, although it passed more than 5 centuries. I really admire him, and his opus, which gained so many good critics.
I've already seen some of his plays, including Hamlet, Henry V and Merchant of Venice. I'd like to see As you like it.

47 users have voted.
emitis's picture
emitis 14 May, 2013 - 10:40

William shakespeare is a gratest writer in the English language and also he is good poet and playwright. I like to see 'Hamlet' in the theatre.

52 users have voted.
KLEA B's picture
KLEA B 25 April, 2013 - 19:27


52 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 26 April, 2013 - 04:38

Hi Klea B! Do you study Shakespeare at school? Which of his plays have you seen and read? One thing - please don't write all in CAPITALS, because it's hard to read and seems like shouting. Thanks and keep on writing!
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

45 users have voted.
irida15's picture
irida15 24 April, 2013 - 20:00

Shakespear was an amasingly good writer. His masterpieces are still performed around the world.I would like to see in the theatre "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Hamlet".

52 users have voted.
SARAH K's picture
SARAH K 14 April, 2013 - 18:15

W.SH. really is a great a writer. His dramas, comedies, sonnets, tragedies, better all his works are really endlessly interesting. His quotes are amazing. E.g. " TO BE OR NOT TO BE, THAT IS THE QUESTION..." FROM HAMLET\ or " ET TU, BRUT? FROM JULIUS CAESAR. Shakespeare for me is the best playwrite ever

48 users have voted.
dajana-n's picture
dajana-n 4 April, 2013 - 14:28

I think that Shakespeare is one of the best writers in the world.
I would like to see in theatre ''The Hamlet''.

47 users have voted.
fatmira n's picture
fatmira n 19 March, 2013 - 16:09

Shakespeare is a great writer.
I would like to see"AS YOU LIKE IT"and"HAMLET" in theatre.
They are amazng.

56 users have voted.