(1564-1616) the English poet and playwright (= writer of plays) who is often described as the greatest writer in the English language. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, the son of a wealthy glove maker and merchant. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and they had three children. In 1588 Shakespeare moved to London and joined a leading theatre company called the Chamberlain's Men. He quickly established a reputation as a writer of plays and appeared in his own dramas at the Globe Theatre. He wrote 36 plays for the London stage including comedies such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It, tragedies such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, history plays including Richard II and Henry IV and two romances, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. The plays are written mainly in verse and are greatly admired for their poetic language, dramatic technique and literary style. He also wrote poems, the best known of which are The Sonnets, famous for their beautiful language and strong emotion. Shakespeare returned to Stratford-upon-Avon in about 1611 and died there in 1616. Today his plays are regularly performed all over the world. In Britain, they are often performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and around the country, and at the Globe Theatre in London. Every year, during the weekend nearest to 23 April, which is Shakespeare's birthday, there are celebrations in Stratford, and people from all over the world go together to put flowers on Shakespeare's tomb.