Tales from Shakespeare has reduced the archaic English and complicated storyline of Shakespeare, to a simple level that children can read and comprehend. The following plays have been selected and adapted into tales for the young reader as an introduction to the study of Shakespeare:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
The Merchant of Venice
William Shakespeare was born in a small English town called Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and baptized on April 26, 1564. He studied at the local school in Stratford. John Shakespeare, his father, had a small business as a grocer, and rose to become Chamberlain and then Bailiff of Stratford.
In 1582 William married Anne Hathaway, and they had three children. Within a few years he moved to London where he joined a theatre company, probably as an actor. By 1592, he had made a name as a playwright. At the age of thirty, he joined a company whose office was in a playhouse called ';The Theatre'. It was England's first playhouse built for theatrical performances. Theatres in those days just had a circle of plain, muddy ground as the stage. It was surrounded by a circle of double-storeyed galleries occupied by the gentry. The common people sat on the ground in front of the galleries.
In 1599, a new theatre called ';The Globe' was opened in London. Some of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies were performed here, including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and The Tempest. The first audience of Shakespeare's great plays were people with primitive tastes who loved a bloody drama, and who frequently shouted out lines of dialogue which they wanted included in the play.
Even in his lifetime Shakespeare was England's leading dramatist, and he had the support of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I, who succeeded her. Besides plays, he wrote many famous sonnets, became a rich man and finally left London and returned to Stratford in 1611, where he died in 1616.
One of the giants of English literature, Shakespeare is recognized the world over not only as a great dramatist but also as a poet of extraordinary sensibility and linguistic gifts.