William Shakespeare is the most important English playwright and poet. He is famous around the world for the phrase from his book, Hamlet: “To be or not to be…”
This is thought to be the house where Shakespeare was born, grew up and played. Shakespeare also spent the first five years of married life in this house with his new wife, Anne Hathaway.
Shakespeare’s father was from a humble origin. Shakespeare’s father John came to Stratford in 1532 as an apprentice glover and tanner of leathers. Because he owned one house on Greenhill Street and two houses on Henley Street, the exact location of William’s birth cannot be known for certain…
John Shakespeare married Mary Arden, the daughter of the wealthy Robert Arden of Wilmecote and owner of the sixty-acre farm. It appears that neither John nor Mary could write -John used a pair of glovers’ compasses as his signature while Mary used a running horse- but it did not prevent them from becoming important members of the community. John Shakespeare was elected to many civic positions, including ale-taster of the borough (Stratford had a long-reaching reputation for its brewing), chamberlain of the borough, alderman (a position which came with free education for his children at the Stratford Grammar School) and chief alderman. Due to his important civic duties, he sought the title of gentleman and was granted a coat-of-arms.
Later he started to get behind in his taxes and had to mortgage Mary Shakespeare’s estate to pay his creditors. By 1590, John Shakespeare owned only his house on Henley Street.