During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in April of 1564, William Shakespeare was born to Mary and John Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire (Martin 16). The precise date of William's birth is not known because the Stratford records note baptisms, not births, and funerals, not deaths (Kay 13). However, children were normally baptized on the 3rd day after birth, which would make April 23 his birthday (Levi 2). William was Mary and John's third child. During the second half of 1564, the plague broke out. Some 200 people out of a population of 6 or 7 times that number perished (Kay 13). "William was very fortunate to have survived" (Martin 16). .
William attended a grammar school in Stratford. This school was free, and the school days were long, beginning and ending with prayers. The new generation of English poets all went to grammar schools of this kind, though some went to universities at the age of 15 (Levi 29). William had the privilege of seeing his very first play when he was only four years old (Chute 11). William's father took him away from school during hard times when the family was in need of money, so that he could work for a little extra income. William's father was an important citizen, so William probably had a fairly privileged childhood (Martin 17). Their hometown .
was a market center for the surrounding country, and John Shakespeare was a contributor to the goods that were sold and traded there. .
The young Shakespeare worked possibly as a lawyer's clerk at one time. In late 1582, at the age of 18, William married a woman named Anne Hathaway, who was 26 (Kay 15). At the time of their marriage, Anne was pregnant, and gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, in the spring of 1583(Kay 15). At the time of William's marriage, he was holding a job in Stratford, receiving some kind of salary (Levi 30). Anne gave birth to twins, Hamnet and Judith in January of 1585 (Kay 18).