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Loosely defined, entertainment is any activity which holds the interest of an audience or which gives amusement or enjoyment to an audience.

Music, television, the "big screen" or cinema, dance, and music are all types of entertainment which might belong in this category. England has entertainment embedded in its national history.

William Shakespeare, for example, was an English-born playwright. He was, among other things, a bard, which is another word for "poet," and he was called the Bard of Avon, or simply The Bard.

We don't know when the Bard was born, but we do have the date of his baptism, which is April 26, 1564, and his birthday is celebrated on April 23. We do know that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England. All in all, he wrote 154 sonnets and 39 plays, with other writings tentatively attributed to him. His early plays were comedies and histories, and later he switched to tragedies.

His parents were John and Mary Shakespeare and was the oldest of their surviving children. The two oldest children, both of whom were girls, died in infancy, and his sister Anne died when she was seven. He grew up with three brothers, Edmond, Gilbert, and Richard, and a sister named Joan.

John was a leatherworker whose specialized in soft, white leather which was used to make gloves and was a very successful businessman. He was later a town alderman and later the town bailiff, which was the equivalent of a mayor.

William was only 18 in 1582 when he married Anne Hathaway, who was 26. Anne was pregnant with their first child, Susanna, at the time of the wedding. They had twins, Judith and Hamnet, in 1585, and they stayed with Anne in Stratford while William pursued his theater career in London. Hamnet died in 1596 at age eleven. Susanna ended up marrying a successful Stratford doctor, and they had William's first grandchild, Elizabeth in 1608. Judith married a local vintner in 1616, mere months before The Bard died. His progeny died out, and today, there are no direct descendants of William Shakespeare.

There is no record of what he did after the birth of the twins, in act, there is no record of what Shakespeare did from 1585 until 1592, a period of time called "Shakespeare's lost years." But in 1592, when we pick up the scent again, he was an established London playwright and actor.

For more than 20 years, he acted in London, even while his poems were published and he wrote plays. He became a partner and house playwright in a theatrical company called Lord Chamberlain's men, and was later renamed to the King's Men, which is was part of his life for most of his career. He invested money made from that company in real estate.

He was still working as an actor in 1608, although he was frequently out of a job between 1603 and 1610 due to extended closing of the playhouses during outbreaks of the plague. His writing tapered off in 1610, and the last three plays he wrote were part of collaborations which historians believe were with John Fletcher, who became the house playwright after William retired.

As far as anyone has been able to tell, he wrote no more plays after 1613, when he retired to Stratford at age 49.

He wrote and signed his will on March 26, 1616, and in that document, he described himself as being in "perfect health." He died a month later on April 23, 1616, and no cause of death was ever found. Fifty years later, the Vicar of Stratford, John Ward, wrote in his notebook that "Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted."



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