• Some masterpieces are Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire county.

Warwickshire is in the heart of England, a county which has produced a number of prominent men of letters. The river Avon runs through the middle of it, dividing it into two – to the north the old forest of Arden and to the south open cornfields and wide pastures. The landscape around is charming, full of beautiful flowers, singing birds, and the delightful murmur of the smoothly flowing Avon.

As our dramatist grew up, he was entranced by its scenes and sights, sounds and colours. His countryside world was the best part of his education.

The forest of Arden in As You Like it is his tribute to the great forest to the north of his native town.

”Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks/ Sermons in stones and God in everything”.

The river provides the most frequent images – natural enough for a poet who lived all his early years beside the Avon. He eventually came back to it to spend there a part of most summers and eventually retired to live his last days beside it.

His father, John Shakespeare, was a businessman in Stratford and prominent in local affairs until the late 1570s, when he allegedly fell into debt. His mother, Mary Arden, came from a higher social background, being the daughter of a gentleman and landowner, Robert Arden. It was a perfect marriage of the right man in the right moment.

Had Shakespeare been born twenty years earlier or later, his accomplishments would have been entirely different.

Awful, average or astonishing? You decide: