William. 1564–1616, English dramatist and poet. He was born and died at Stratford-upon-Avon but spent most of his life as an actor and playwright in London. His plays with approximate dates of composition are: Henry VI, Parts I–III (1590); Richard III (1592); The Comedy of Errors (1592); Titus Andronicus (1593); The Taming of the Shrew (1593); The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594); Love's Labour's Lost (1594); Romeo and Juliet (1594); Richard II (1595); A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595); King John (1596); The Merchant of Venice (1596); Henry IV, Parts I–II (1597); Much Ado about Nothing (1598); Henry V (1598); Julius Caesar (1599); As You Like It (1599); Twelfth Night (1599); Hamlet (1600); The Merry Wives of Windsor (1600); Troilus and Cressida (1601); All's Well that ends Well (1602); Measure for Measure (1604); Othello (1604); King Lear (1605); Macbeth (1605); Antony and Cleopatra (1606); Coriolanus (1607); Timon of Athens (1607); Pericles (1608); Cymbeline (1609); The Winter's Tale (1610); The Tempest (1611); and, possibly in collaboration with John Fletcher, Two Noble Kinsmen (1612) and Henry VIII (1612). His Sonnets, variously addressed to a fair young man and a dark lady, were published in 1609
surname recorded from 1248; it means "a spearman." This was a common type of English surname, e.g. Shakelance (1275), Shakeshaft (1332). Shake (v.) in the sense of "to brandish or flourish (a weapon)" is attested from late Old English
Heo scæken on heore honden speren swiðe stronge. [Laymon, "Brut," c. 1205]
Cf. also shake-buckler "a swaggerer, a bully;" shake-rag "ragged fellow, tatterdemalion." "Never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in origin. It is exactly what it looks -- Shakespear" [Bardsley, "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," 1901]. Nevertheless, speculation flourishes. The name was variously written in contemporary records, also Shakespear, Shakespere, the last form being the one adopted by the New Shakespere Society of London and the first edition of the OED. Related: Shakespearian (1753); Shakesperean (1796); Shakesperian (1755).