Shakespeare and his wife, Anne Hathaway, had three children. Shakespeare’s last surviving descendant was Elizabeth Hall, his granddaughter. Shakespeare has no direct descendants living today. In contrast, another great British writer, Charles Dickens, had ten children, and there are approximately 40 relatives alive today (several great great great grandchildren living in England).
Although Shakespeare’s actual birthdate is not known, the date of his baptism was recorded: April 16, 1564. Biographers have settled on April 23, 1564 as his birthdate. When Shakespeare was born, there was another Shakespeare family living in Stratford. Needless to say, that family did not produce a world renown playwright.
Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616; however it is not entirely clear how he died. The vicar of Stratford believed Shakespeare died from a fever contracted from too much drinking. According to Dr. John Hall, his doctor and son-in-law, Shakespeare died of a brain hemorrhage. Hall wrote: “I have formed the opinion that it was more likely than not in the nature of a cerebral hemorrhage or apoplexy that quickly deepened and soon became fatal. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, the hurried reconstruction and inter-lineated clauses of the Will not allowing time for it to be copied afresh before signature; Secondly, the earliest and clearest impressions of the Droeshout frontispiece of the First Folio show outstanding shadings, suggesting marked thickening of the left temporal artery — a sign of atheroma and arterio-sclerosis; and thirdly, such a termination is quite common in men who have undergone such continuous mental and physical strain over a prolonged period as our actor-manager-dramatist must have been subjected to throughout his, undoubtedly, strenuous career. Richard Burbage who daily shared the same theatrical life, himself died of such a seizure after twenty-four hours illness [in 1619].”
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare death. To commemorate this important anniversary, The Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, D.C.) launched the First Folio tour in January 2016, titled the “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” The library, which owns 82 (out of 750 first editions) complete copies of the First Folio, will send out 18 copies for a 52-stop tour traveling exhibition that will visit all 50 states.
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