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Will was a playwright. His plays were a phenomenal success on stage in the 16th and 17th century. They were written in the form of a script, rather like a film. Dramatis Personae is Latin for 'the masks of the drama', or the main characters in a play. Here are some of the characters in Will's story. 


Will was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire in April 1564. The exact date isn't recorded, but he was baptised on 23rd April and this is the date we take to mark his birthday.


Robert Greene published a pamphlet (leaflet) in 1591 calling WIll an 'Upstart Crow' implying he was an uneducated, agressive boaster, with no talent.


Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit, wrote six plays and likely collaborated on others with Will. But Kit was killed in a bar brawl in Deptford in 1593 at only 28 years old.


Will married Anne Hathaway, who lived nearby with her family on a farm in Shottery in 1582 when she was 26 and he was only 18, shortly after Anne's father died.

Illustration, cartoon of Will Kemp

Will Kemp

Comic actor in both The Lord Chamberlain's Men and Lord Strange's Men with Will. Played many of the key comic roles.

Illustration, cartoon of Richard Burbage, actor

Richard Burbage

A lead actor, who played the title roles in many of Will's plays, including Richard III, Hamlet and King Lear.

cartoon of Ned Alleyn, actor

Ned Alleyn

An imposing lead actor rivalling Richard Burbage. Ned retired at the height of his fame in 1598, returning to the stage in 1604.

cartoon of Philip Henslowe, propriieor of The Rose Theatre

Philip Henslowe

Ned Alleyn's father-in-law, and proprietor of The Rose Theatre on Bankside, a rival venture to Will's Globe Theatre.

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