William Shakespeare Famous Works

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born on 23rd April 1564, at Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire.
He died on 23rd April 1616.
William Shakespeare’s Father’s name was John Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Mother’s name was Mary Arden Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Wife Name: Anne Hathaway.
William Shakespeare’s Nickname: The Swan of Avon.

The Famous Titles of William Shakespeare
  1. King without crown.
  2. The Bard of Avon.
  3. National poet of England.
  4. The greatest dramatist.
  5. The greatest superstar in the world.
  6. Poet of Human Nature – (Said by Dr. Samuel Johnson)

William Shakespeare’s Famous Literary Works

What are the 38 plays of Shakespeare

William Shakespeare’s Plays (37 or 38) and Characteristics

His play consists of ‘five acts’. William Shakespeare composed most of his plays in ‘ iambic pentameter ‘ ( a line of 10 syllables).

William Shakespeare lost two of his written plays. Those are:
1) Love’s Labours Won.
2) The History of Cardenio.

Sonnets – 154. – William Shakespeare’s sonnet style is : Three quatrains and a couplet.
William Shakespeare is the innovator of ‘Sakespearean Sonnet’.
He dedicated a few of his sonnets to his friend, named ‘Earl of Southampton’.
William Shakespeare wrote 26 sonnets for some ‘Dark Lady’.

William Shakespeare wrote three Long Narrative Poems.

Those are:
1) The Rape of Lucrece.
2) A Lover’s Complaint.
3) Venus and Adonis.

Some of his more famous poems are

1) The Passionate Pilgrim.
2) The Phoenix and the Turtle.
3) Under the Greenwood Tree – famous line: ‘Life in nature is simple and free’.
4) Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

William Shakespeare’s Famous Works (Plays)
William Shakespeare wrote 4 types of plays.
  1. Historical play.  ( Shakespeare wrote 10 historical plays).
  2. Tragedy ( Shakespeare wrote 12 tragedies).
  3. Tragi-comedy/problem play
  4. Comedy
1. William Shakespeare’s Famous Works (Historical Plays-10)

William Shakespeare wrote 10 historical plays.

His first play was Henry (VI)- part 2.

  1. King John
  2. Richard (II)
  3. Richard (III)
  4. Henry (IV)- Part 1. Famous line: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.
  5. Henry (IV)- Part 2
  6. Henry (V).  A famous quote from Henry (V) is: “The empty vessel makes the loudest sound”.” Men of few words are the best men “.
  7. Henry (VI)- Part 1
  8. Henry (VI)- part 2.
  9. Henry (VI)- Part 3
  10. Henry (VIII).
William Shakespeare’s Famous Works (Tragedy-12)
1. Macbeth

Macbeth is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy.

  • Main Plot/ Story: A soldier named Macbeth murders King Duncan of Scotland, influenced by his wife Lady Macbeth. And sat on the throne. But in the end they both dies.
  • Character: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Malcolm, Banqo, Madcuff (a noble man) ,  Three witches.
  • Famous quotes of Macbeth :

1) ” Fair is foul, and foul is fair ” – Three witches.
2) ” Life’s but a walking shadow ” – Macbeth.
3) ” Life is a tale told by an idiot “.
4) ” Look like an innocent flower but be the serpent under it ” – Lady Macbeth.
5) ” Here is still the smell of blood, all the perfumes of arabia will not sweeten this little hand “.

2. Hamlet

Hamlet means – A small village that doesn’t have a church.

  • Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play.
  • The play Hamlet has 7 soliloquies.
  • Being inspired by Thomas Kyd’s ‘The Spanish Tragedy’, William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
  • Story: Hamlet is the prince of Denmark. His father King Hamlet, was murdered by the conspiracy of his uncle Claudius and mother Gertrude. Hamlet takes revenge for his father’s death by murdering Claudius and Hamlet also dies by getting injured by a poisonous sword.
  • Character: King Hamlet, Hamlet (prince), Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Horatio, Laertes, Polonius.
  • Famous lines of Hamlet :

1) To be or not to be that is the question.
2) Frailty, thy name is a woman.
3) Brevity is the soul of wit.
4) There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
5) When sorrows come, they come not in single spies but in battalions.
6) There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
7) There is a divinity that shapes our end.
8) Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend.
9) The play is a thing,  where i will catch the conscience of the king.
10) “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,  how infinite in faculties; in form and moving how express and admirable,  in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! ”

3. Othello
  • Theme: Fatal consequences of doubt.
  • Story: Othello is a modern general of Venice, who doubts his wife Desdemona having an affair with his assistant soldier Cassio. And by driven by his doubt one day he killed his sleeping wife with his hand. Later he knew about the truth and conspiracy of Iago. Knowing the truth he chose the path of suicide.
  • Othello gave Desdemona a handkerchief as a token of love.
  • Character: Othello (The Moor), Desdemona, Brabantio (father of Desdemona),  Iago, Cassio, Emilia.
4. King Lear

A tragedy of an arrogant king.

Story: King Lear was a father of three daughters. Elder Goneril, then Regan, and the youngest Cordelia. Among his three daughters, the elder two were disloyal, greedy, and unfaithful. But won the king’s heart with their sweet answers asked to them by the king. On the other hand, the youngest, loyal, and loving daughter couldn’t make his father happy with her words. King gets offended and disowns her youngest daughter. At the end, the king gets betrayed by the elder two daughters and Cordelia helps him. And King Lear repents for his wrongdoings.

  • Character: King Lear, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia.
Famous lines of the play King Lear:

1) Nothing will come of nothing.
2) My love is richer than my tongue – Cordelia.
3) I am a man more sinned against than sinning. – King Lear.
4) Thankless children are sharper than poisonous snakes. – King Lear.

5. Julius Caesar
  • Julius Caesar was a ruler of Rome about 2000 years ago.
  • Story: A ruler of Rome Julius Caesar became the victim of his friend Brutus’s betrayal. Brutus was influenced by a group of aristocratic people, became greedy for power, and murdered his close friend and ruler Julius Caesar.
  • Character: Julius Caesar, Brutus, Antonio.
Famous lines of the play Julius Caesar:

1) Cowards die many times before their death, But the valiant never taste death but once.- Julius Caesar.
2) Vini, Vidi, Vici (I came,  I saw, I conquered). – Julius Caesar.
3) Brutus,  you too! – Julius Caesar.

6. Romeo and Juliet

A tragedy of eternal love.

  • Story: Romeo and Juliet belong to two hostile aristocratic families in Italy. Romeo is the son of the Montague family and Juliet is from the Capulet family. Romeo and Juliet loved each other truly but their family refused them. And the Capulet family fixed the marriage of Juliet elsewhere. To escape from the marriage, Juliet planned and drank a sleeping medicine given by Laurence. Which will make her sleep for 42 hours and people will believe that she is dead. After 42 hours she will wake up and go with Romeo. But Romeo didn’t get the message of this planning, from Laurence on time. And he like others thought that Juliet was dead. Knowing that, his beloved is no more, Romeo drank poison and died beside Juliet’s grave. After waking up from sleep, Juliet saw Romeo dead. She couldn’t bear the sight and killed herself with Romeo’s knife.
  • Character : Romeo, Juliet, Montague, Lady Montague, Capulet, Lady Capulet, Laurence.
  • Quote: ” What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” – Juliet to Romeo.
7. Antony and Cleopatra
  • Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt. Known as ‘The Serpent of the Nile’.
  • Story: A love story of Cleopatra and his army General Antony. Antony while in a war got fake news of Cleopatra’s death and his suicide after that. Knowing that, Antony is no more, Queen Cleopatra also died from her snake bite.
  • Character: Antony, Cleopatra, Gaius Octavian.
8. Titus Andronicus
  • Character: Titus (a renowned Roman general), Lavinia, Lucius, Quintus, Marcus, and Tamora.
9. Troilus and Cressida
  • Character: Troilus, Cassandra, Hector, Paris, Helen.
  • Famous quote :

1) “The common curse of mankind folly and ignorance”.

10. Coriolanus
  • Character: Coriolanus, Virgilia, Menenius, Agrippa, Comenius, Titus Lartius.
11. Cymbeline
  • Character: Cymbeline, Imogene, Giderius.
12. Timon of Athens
  • Timon of Athens is William Shakespeare’s unfinished play.
  • Character: Timon, Alcibiades, Apemantus.
  • Quote: ” Life is an uncertain voyage “.
William Shakespeare’s Famous Works (Tragi-Comedy: 3)

Tragi-Comedy / Problem Play:

1. The Merchant of Venice
  • It is told that from being inspired by the play ‘The Jew of Malta’ written by Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare wrote ‘The Merchant of Venice’.
  • Character: Shylock ( a jew usurer), Antonio, Portia, Bassanio, Jessica.
  • Famous quotes from The Merchant of Venice :

1) All that glitter is not gold.
2) Love is blind and lovers cannot see
3) It is a wise father who knows his child.
4) In short, I know not why I am so sad.

2. All’s Well That Ends Well
  • Character: Parolles, Lafew, Lavatch.
  • Famous lines of All’s Well That Ends Well:

1) Listen to many, speak to a few.
2) Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

3. Measure for Measure
  • Measure for Measure is called black comedy, dark comedy, and problem play. It is not a tragedy but also a fair comedy. This tragi-comedy ends with forced love but not true love.
  • Character: Vincentio, Angelo, Bernardine, Abhorson.
  • Famous lines of the play:

1) Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.
2) The miserable have no other medicine but only hope.

William Shakespeare’s Famous Works (Comedy-12)
1. As You Like It
  • Theme: Love at first sight.
  • Character: Orlando, Rosalind, Duke Senior, Celia, Touchstone.
  • Famous lines of ‘As You Like It’ :

1) ” All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women are merely players”.
2) ” Blow, blow the winter wind, Thou (you) are not so unkind, As man’s ingratitude “.
3) ” Sweet are the uses of adversity “.
4) ” Under the green wood tree / Who loves to lie with me “.

2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • It is a romantic comedy.
  • Character: Titania, Hermia, Oberon, Puck, Lysander, Helena.
  • Famous quote of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ :

1) ” Love looks not with the eyes but with mind “.
2) ” Take pains, Be perfect “.
3) ” The course of true love never did run smooth “.

3. Much Ado About Nothing
  • Character: Benedick, Don John, Leonarto, Dogberry, Don Pedro.
4. The Comedy of Errors
  • Character: Solinus, Dromio, Antipholous.
5. Twelfth Night
  • Subtitle: Or, What You Will.
  • Character: Viola, Olivia, Maluolio, Duke Orsino.
  • Famous quote of Twelfth Night :

1) ” Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them “.
2) ” If music be the food of love, play on “.
3) ” Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit “.
4) ” Love is sought is good, but given unsought is better “.

6. The Taming of the Shrew

Character: Katherine.

7. The Tempest
  • Tempest means violent storm.
  • The Tempest is William Shakespeare’s last work, swan song.
  • The Tempest was first performed in front of ‘King James (l)’ at ‘White Hall’.
  • Character: Caliban, Ariel, Ferdinand, Alanso, Miranda, Prospereo.
  • Famous quote :

1) ” Hell is empty and all the devils are here “.

8. Two Gentleman of Verona
  • Character : Thurio, Launce, Eglamour, Valentine, Lucetta.
  • Famous line :

1) “Home-keeping youtg have ever homely wits “.

9. Love’s Labours Lost
  • Character : Berowne, Longaville, Costard, Don Armado.
10. The Winter’s Tale :
  • Character : Leontes, Perdita, Polixenes, Florizel, Mamillius.
11. Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Character: Helicanus, Cerimon, Dionyza, Lychorida, Thaliart.
12. The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Character: Falstaff, Mistress Ford, Mistress Quickly, Anne Page, Fenton, Meg Page.

Elizabethan Age in English Literature (1558 1603) Summary

Elizabethan Period in English Literature (1558 – 1603) Summary. Elizabethan Age Writers and Their Works. Assignment on Elizabethan Age. Elizabethan Era Literature.

Elizabethan Period in English Literature (1558 – 1603)

The Elizabethan Period in English Literature refers to the history of English writings published during Elizabeth I’s reign in England from 1558 to 1603.  It also includes all published books written by many writers such as Thomas Norton, Thomas Sackville, Edmund Spencer, Richard Hooker, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Philip Sydney, Shakespeare and so more. The Elizabethan Period is known as Elizabethan era literature.

The Simple Definition of the Elizabethan Period

The Elizabethan Period in English Literature means the history of the Elizabethan age writers and their works.

Elizabethan Age in English Literature (1558 – 1603) Summary

This period is named after Queen Elizabeth (1). She was the daughter of King Henry (8) and Queen Anne Boleyn. Queen Elizabeth (1) was also known as the ‘Virgin Queen’.

  • A famous Quotation from Queen Elizabeth is: “A good face is the best letter of recommendation”.
  • Queen Elizabeth started ‘Anglicanism’ to eradicate religious problems. ‘Anglicanism’ means England’s church.
Other Names of the Elizabethan Period in English Literature are:

1) Gloden Period of English Literature
2) A Nest of Singing Birds
3) The First Creative Period of English Literature
The first English Theatre was established in 1576.

The List of Poets of the Elizabethan Period:
  1. Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville
  2. Edmund Spenser
  3. Sir Philip Sydney
  4. Christopher Marlow
  5. John Webster
  6. Ben Jonson
  7. Francis Bacon
  8. Miguel de Cervantes
  9. Thomas More
  10. Sir Thomas Wyatt & Henry Howard
  11. Nicholas Udall
  12. Thomas Kyd
  13. University Wits
1. Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville

Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville both were literary collaborators. They wrote the first tragedy in English literature. That is :
Play: ‘The Tragedy of Gorboduc’. (It is also called: Ferrex and Porrex).

2. Edmund Spenser

Titles:  1) The Second Father of English Poetry.
2) The Prince of Poet.
3) The Poet of Poets. (This was engraved in his epitaph).
4) Court Poet.
5) Divine Master.
Edmund Spencer’s Literary Works :
Epic: 1) ‘The Faerie Queen’ – It is an allegorical epic. The main characters of this poem are The Red Cross Knight (Hero), and Una (Heroine).
Poetry: 1) Amoretti – a collection of 89 sonnets.
2) Astrophel – An elegy for Sir Philip Sydney.
3) The Shepherd’s Calendar – Dedicated to Sir Philip Sydney.
4) The Epithalamion.
5) Four Hymns.

3. Sir Philip Sydney

Titles: The Precursor of English Renaissance.
1) Arcadia (Novel) – The embryo of the English Novel.
2) The Lady of May
3) An Apology for Poetry.
4) Astrophel and Stella.

4. Christopher Marlow

Titles:  1) Father of English Drama ( Tragedy).
2) Predecessor of William Shakespeare.

  • Christopher Marlow introduced ‘Blank Verse’ in English Literature.
  • Alfred Tennyson called him ‘Morning Star’.

Famous Lyrics:
1) The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.
2) Hero and Leander.
Famous Plays (Tragedy) :
1) Doctor Faustus – Full Title: ‘The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus’.

  • Faustus is called a ‘Renaissance Hero’.
  • In this play, Faustus ( Hero) sold his soul to satan for 24 years.
  • Characters are Dr.Faustus, Helen, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, etc.
  • The famous quote of this tragedy: “Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss”.

2) Dido, Queen of Carthage – It is Marlow’s first play.
3) Tamburlaine, The Great.
4) The Jew of Malta. – Main character: Barabas ( a jew). It is assumed that William Shakespeare wrote ‘The Merchant of Venice’ from being inspired by this play.
5) Edward (2) – It is a historical play.
Famous Quotes of Christopher Marlow :
1) “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, and burnt the topless towers of illium”.
2) “Man is the maker if his own fate”.
3) “There is no sin but ignorance”.
4) “Come and be my friend”.

5. John Webster

John Webster claimed himself as the heir to the Shakespeare.
Famous Tragedies :
1) The White Devil.
2) The Devil’s Law Case.
3) The Duchess of Malfi – Character: Bosola ( A Machiavellian character). Machiavellian means: Selfish.

6. Ben Jonson

1) Father of Comedy of Humour.
2) Father of English Realistic Comedy.

  • Ben Jonson’s comedy is connected with medical theory.

1) Every Man in His Humour.
2) Every Man Out of His Humour.
3) Volpone – It is also known as ‘The Foxes’ or ‘The Beast Fable’.
Character from Volpone : Mosca.
4) The Alchemist.
5) The Silent Woman. – Its other name is: ‘Epicoene’.

7. Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon Titles:
1) Father of English Essay.
2) Father of Modern Prose.
3) First Essayist in English Literature.
4) Father of Empiricism.
5) Master of Aphorism and Terseness.

  • Francis Bacon was an Attorney General, a Statesman, and also a Lord Chancellor.
  • Most of his essays started with ‘of’.

Francis Bacon’s Famous Essay
1) Of Studies. – Some quotes from this essay are given below :

  • “History makes man wise”.
  • ” A wise nan will make more opportunities than he find”.
  • “Reading maketh a full man, confidence a ready man; writing an exact man”.
  • ” Studies serve for delight, for ornament and for ability”.
  • “Some vooks are to be tasted, other to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested”.

2) Of Death.
3) Of Friendship. – Famous quote from this essay :

” A good friend is another himself”.

4) Of Plantantains.
5) Of Truth. – Some quotes from this essay are :

  • “Opportunity makes a theif”.
  • ” Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom”.
  • “The secret of the success is the constancy of purpose”.
  • “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present”.
  • “Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted but to wigh and consider”.
  • “A mixture of lies does ever add pleasure”.

6) Of Great Place.
7) Of Love. – Famous quotes from this essay are:

  • It is impossible to love and be wise.

8) History of Life and Death. – A Famos quote of this essay is :

  • ” It is natural to die to death as to be born”.

9) Ladder of the Mind. – A quote of this essay is :

    • ” Wise men make more opportunities than they find”.

10) Of Marriage and Single Life. Famous quotes from this essay are:

  • “Wives are young men’s mistress, companions for middle age and old men’s nurses”.
  • “A bachelor’s life is a fine breakfast, a flat lunch and a miserable dinner”.
  • “Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper”.
  • ” Unmarried man are best friends, best masters, best servant but not always best subject”.

11) Of Revenge.

  • The famous quote from this essay: “Revenge is a kind of wild justice”.

12) Of Suspicion. – A famous quote of this essay is :

  • ” Suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds”.
Francis Bacon’s Famous Books :

1) The Advancement of Learning.
2) Novum Organum.
3) The Wisdom of Ancients.
4) Divine and Humane.
5) The New Atlantis.
6) Meditationes Sacrae. ( Sacred Meditations). – A very famous quote from this book is: “Knowledge is power”.
7) Apophthegmes New and Old..- A famous quote from this book is:

  • “Age appears best in four things : Old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old author to read”.
8. Miguel de Cervantes

Famous Book: ‘Don Quixote’.

9. Thomas More

Book: ‘ Utopia ‘ ( An imaginary island where there is no problem).

10. Sir Thomas Wyatt & Henry Howard

Their Famous Book: Tottle’s Miscellany ( It is called the First Fruit of Renaissance).

11. Nicholas Udall

Title: Father of English Comedy.
Comedy: ‘ Ralph Roister Doister ‘.

12. Thomas Kyd

Title: 1) A University Wit.
2) Father of English Revenge Tragedy.
Famous play: ‘ The Spanish Tragedy ‘ ( Bloody Drama ). – William Shakespeare from being inspired by this play, wrote: Hamlet.

13. University Wits

A group of young dramatists and pamphleteers of the Elizabethan period who were the scholars of Oxford and Cambridge University are called ‘University Wits’.

There are seven famous University Wits. They are :
1) Christopher Marlow. ( Already Discussed).
2) Thomas Kyd. ( Already Discussed).
3) George Peele :
Famous Books :
1) The Old Wife’s Tale.
2) Famous Chronicle of King Edward (1).
4) Thomas Nashe:
Title: The Greatest of English Elizabethan Pamphleteers.
Novel: The Unfortunate Traveller.
Play:    1) Summer’s Last Will.
2) Testament.
5) John Lyly:
Play:    1) King Midas
2) The Women in the Moon.
Book: ‘ The Anatomy of Wit ‘.
6) Thomas Lodge :
Thomas Lodge was a Physician.
1) Golden Legacy.
2) Rosalynde.
7) Robert Greene:
Comedy: ‘ Friar Bacon ‘.

Important Periods of English Literature
English Literature Period Duration
The Old English Period 450-1066
The Middle English Period :
1. The Anglo-Norman Period
2. The Age of Chaucer
3. The Age of Barren / Dark Age
1. 1066-1340
2. 1340-1400
3. 1400-1485/1500
The Renaissance Period :
1. Elizabethan Period
2. Jacobean Period
3. Caroline Period
4. Commonwealth Period
1500-1660 :
1. 1558-1603
2. 1603-1625
3. 1625-1649
4. 1649-1660
The Neo-Classical Period :
1. The Restoration Period
2. Augustan Period
3. The Age of Sensibility
1. 1660-1700
2. 1700-1745
3. 1745-1798.
Romantic Period 1798-1832
Victorian Period 1832-1900
Modern Period :
1. The Edwardian Period
2. The Georgian Period
1. 1901-1910
2. 1910-1939
Post Modern Period 1939- Present