William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon” (or simply “the Bard”). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays (including Hamlet, MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Much ado About Nothing, Richard III, King Lear, and numerous other seminal works), 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.