The works of William Shakespeare bears no comparison in the history of arts. He was a versatile English poet, play writer and actor. He has written nearly 38 plays, 154 sonnets and countless poems between the years 1582–1612, which are remembered even to this day. They had great impact on English literature and western theater. All his works have been translated into all known languages and they have been performed around over the world over a million times.
Although most of his works were written for English audience the appeal was universal. His writing style was greatly influenced by Christopher Marlowe. In 1594, Shakespeare became part-owner of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a drama company. By then he had even started acting, along with writing plays. Under his presence the company became so famous which made King James I buy the company and then it was named as King’s men.
His plays revolved around tragedy, comedy, romance and history. He started his career reworking on other writers work which was common at that time. Since then he helped the playwrights to finish their work fast. Like Hamlet was the new adaptation of a lost play named Ur-Hamlet and King Lear was the new version of King Leir. His plays on history were inspired by the Greek, Roman and English history. Plays like Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and Raphael Holinshed’s The Chronicle of England inspired plays like Macbeth and King Lear. Tempest was his original work.
Shakespeare’s early works of 1590s were based on romantic comedies and historic nostalgia which were the story line of works like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Henry IV, Part I. After the plague, he began including rhymed couplets and dramatic dialogues in his work. His middle period works revolved around betrayal, murder, egoism, power, ambition, lust, tragedy and comedy. Plays like Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida were based on them. His later works were mostly romantic and fantasies such as The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. His works were also published in press as a series of quartos. Two actors named John Heminges and Henry Condell started First Folio to honor and publish Shakespeare’s work exclusively in 1623. Categories such as comedies, tragedies and histories were made in First Folio. Modern critics have added categories like problem-play and tragic-comedies.
The exact order of plays is unknown and has always been the subject of an argument as at his time, plays weren’t authoritatively printed. Many of his plays had many different blueprints due to the textual corruption like printer’s error and compositor’s misreading, so the recognition of his original work is a problem. Many words and spellings were invented by Shakespeare. He had a habit of writing his plays number of time using those different words and spellings. After his death, speculations have risen about the authenticity of Shakespeare’s work. There have been very little record about the events that happened in his life and nor does his will gives an account on any of his plays, poems, sonnets and ownership of the Globe theater. It has been rumored that they might be works of Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe.
The works that have been lost are Love’s Labour’ Won, Cardenio and Quixote. Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, As You Like It, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Richard III are some the critically acclaimed works of William Shakespeare.