Title Page of Shakespeare's First FolioLIFE Photo Collection
If you've ever marvelled at the dawn or at moonbeams, if you've ever been discontented or disheartened, or if you've swaggered or grovelled, you've used the language of Shakespeare. Yet besides his literary legacy, Shakespeare has left very little to history.
We don't know when he was born, or even how to spell his name (is it Shakespeare, or Shakspeare, or Shakspere, or even Shaksper?) but we do know where he lived and worked, so join us as we travel England in the footsteps of The Bard.
Tradition says Shakespeare was born on the 23rd of April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. His parents John Shakespeare and Mary Arden certainly lived in this house, which today is recognised as Shakespeare's Birthplace. 'Birthplace': another word we owe to him!
King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon
As a boy, it's almost certain he attended King's New School in Stratford - the only school for miles around. The schoolroom was in the upstairs floor of the fifteenth-century Guildhall, which even today retains its eyecatching wattle and daub architecture.
Anne Hathaway's Cottage
At the age of 19, Shakespeare married the 26 year old Anne Hathaway, who lived here with her parents. The ceremony was made in haste and, lo and behold, six months after their marriage Anne gave birth to their first child, Susanna, soon followed by twins Hamnet and Judith.
The Guild Chapel
The years between 1585 and 1592 have sent us packing on a wild goose chase. There are simply no records of Shakespeare at all, he seems to have vanished into thin air. Fanciful claims and folk stories say he was on the run from the law, others say he was simply a rural teacher.
St Helen's, Bishopsgate
By 1596, Shakespeare was well-established as a London playwright. The Lord Chamberlain's Men were regularly performing his plays. At the time, he was living in a house in living in the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, near the modern-day Lloyd's Building.
Shakespeare was clearly doing well for hismelf, as in 1597 he bought New Place, the second-largest house in his hometown of Stratford. New Place is now demolished, but you can get a sense of how it once looked by looking next door to Nash's House. Speaking of which...
Nash's House is a classic example of Tudor architecture, with exposed beams and brick, and black and white paint. Incidentally, Nash's House was the home of Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Hall and her wealthy husband Thomas Nash.
In 1599, following a dispute with their landlord, some of the Lord Chamberlain's Men decided to build their own theatre in Southwark on the south bank of the River Thames and beyond the restrictive laws of the City London.
This modern reconstruction stands only metres from where the Globe originally stood. Stood in the pit, you begin to get a sense of what it was like to witness Shakespeare's plays for the first time.
By 1604, he had once again moved north of the river, to an area around St Paul's Cathedral, perhaps near modern-day Postman's Park. Here, he rented rooms from a French Huguenot named Christopher Mountjoy, a maker of ladies' wigs and other headgear.
In 1607, his daughter Susanna married John Hall, a physician. Hall's Croft was built in 1613, only three years before Shakespeare himself died. While Shakespeare's infamous second-best bed went to his wife, it's likely the best one was sent here, to Susanna.
Audience at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre awaiting a performance of Othello (2015-07) by David Tett (C) RSCRoyal Shakespeare Company