William Shakespeare, also known as the “Bard of Avon”, (baptized April 26, 1564, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England – died April 23, 1616, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England) was an English poet, playwright and actor, often called England’s national poet and widely considered to be the greatest dramatist of all time.
William Shakespeare produced most of his famous plays in the period between 1589 and 1613. He wrote tragedies, histories, comedies and tragicomedies, also known as romances. His overall work consists of at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems.
Some of the most noted plays are Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, King John, The Winter’s Tale, and Othello. Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into many world languages and are now read and performed more often than ever before.
Although William Shakespeare’s works are well-known throughout the world, most details about his private life are still a mystery.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.
(Modern text: Listen to many people, but talk to few.)Act I, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.Act II, Scene II, The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602)
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
(Also known as: It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.)Act I, Scene II, Julius Caesar (1623)
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.Act V, Scene I, As You Like It (1623)
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.Act III, Scene II, Julius Caesar (1623)
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.Act III, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party loser.Act IV, Scene II, Henry IV, Part 2
Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.Act II, Scene II, Julius Caesar (1623)
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.Act V, Scene V, Macbeth (1623)
This above all; to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.Act I, Scene III, Hamlet (1603)
When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.Act IV, Scene VI, King Lear (1608)
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.Act I, Scene IV, Measure for Measure (1623)
Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.Act III, Scene IV, King John (1623)
Ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.Act IV, Scene VII, Henry VI, Part 2 (1623)
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.Act IV, Scene I, The Tempest (1611)
Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.Act II, Scene V, Twelfth Night (1623)
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.Act II, Scene VII, As You Like It (1623)
The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.Act II, Scene II, Hamlet (1603)
Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious-dear than life.Act V, Scene III, Troilus and Cressida (1609)
Reputation is an idle and most false imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.Act II, Scene III, Othello (1622)
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.Act I, Scene I, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1600)
Men are April when they woo, December when they wed; maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives.Act IV, Scene I, As You Like It (1623)
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!Act I, Scene IV, King Lear (1608)
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.Act II, Scene I, As You Like It (1623)
We cannot conceive of matter being formed of nothing, since things require a seed to start from… Therefore there is not anything which returns to nothing, but all things return dissolved into their elements.No source
Children wish fathers looked but with their eyes; fathers that children with their judgment looked; and either may be wrong.No source
When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.Jewish proverb
The love of heaven makes one heavenly.Sir Philip Sidney ('The Old Arcadia,' The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia)