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William Shakespeare (baptised April 26, 1564 - died April 23 (New style: May 3) 1616) was an English poet and playwright. He wrote about thirty-eight plays, a collection of sonnets, and a variety of other poems. Already a popular writer in his own lifetime, his work became increasingly celebrated after his death and has been adulated by numerous prominent cultural figures through the centuries. Shakespeare now has a reputation as the greatest writer in the English language, as well as one of the greatest in Western literature, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. In addition, Shakespeare is the most quoted writer in the literature and history of the English-speaking world, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. He is often considered the English or British national poet, and is sometimes referred to as the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard")  or the "Swan of Avon".
Shakespeare is believed to have produced most of his work between 1586 and 1616, although the exact dates and chronology of the plays attributed to him are often uncertain. He is counted among the very few playwrights who have excelled in both tragedy and comedy, and his plays combine popular appeal with complex characterisation, poetic grandeur and philosophical depth.
Shakespeare's works have been translated into every major living language, and his plays are continually performed all around the world. In addition, many quotations and neologisms from his plays have passed into everyday usage in English and other languages. Over the years, many people have speculated about Shakespeare's life, raising questions about his sexuality, whether he was secretly Catholic, and debating whether someone else wrote some or all of his plays and poetry.
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