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William Shakespeare arguably the most important writer in all of English literature is certainly the most influential playwright of the English Renaissance Born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon in rural northern England he was the son of a middle-class glovemaker He married in 1582 and fathered three children in the late 1580s or early 1590s he left his family and moved to London to work as an actor and playwright Competing against such illustrious company as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson Shakespeare quickly became one of the most popular playwrights in the city and a favorite of the monarch the powerful and long-lived Queen Elizabeth I Enjoying the favor of the queen and then of her successor James I after Elizabeth died in 1603 Shakespeare wrote thirty- eight plays in the course of his twenty-five-year career-- a few of them apparently in collaboration with other people but most of them solo Many of the plays are quite remarkable and some are inarguably brilliant Shakespeare retired in comfort to the country and died in 1616 at the age of fifty-two The Tempest is one of the last plays Shakespeare ever wrote for the stage It was probably written around the year 1611 and is likely to have been performed in court that year as part of the celebration surrounding the marriage of the daughter of the King James I It contains an unusual amount of spectacle--dances songs costumed plays-within-the-play--which would have made it especially appropriate as entertainment for a royal wedding Shakespeare seems to have retired from his busy playwriting career after he wrote The Tempest although he is believed to have collaborated with other people on at least two plays later on neither of which is very good As a result many people interpret The Tempest as being at least in part a symbolic celebration of the magic of theater and a farewell present from a great playwright to his audience Since the plays central character
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