How Did Shakespeare Become Famous?

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Within two years of writing his first play, “Henry VI, Part One,” which put him on London’s theatrical map, Williams Shakespeare was so famous that established playwright Robert Greene referred to him as an “upstart crow” in a critique of his work. Shakespeare wrote “Henry VI, Part One” while still living in his native Stratford. Shortly thereafter, he moved to London to continue writing plays as well as acting.

Shakespeare’s plays and other written works are known for their wit, clear language, vivid characters and universal themes. These qualities, which have allowed his work to stand the test of time, were appreciated during the writer’s own time as well as they are today.

King James regularly invited Shakespeare to appear in court, as he enjoyed the writer’s performances and story-telling abilities.

In 1594 and 1595, Shakespeare received positive reviews for his play “Lucrece.” By 1598, his work was so sought-after that publishers began attaching his name to printed copies of his poetry and prose in hopes of selling more of them, a custom not common in times when readers cared less about the identity of authors.

In 1605, British historian William Camden wrote that Shakespeare was among the best contemporary writers of his time.