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William Shakespeare

(1564-1616), Dramatist and poet

Sitter associated with 96 portraits
The most celebrated English playwright and poet, Shakespeare is regarded as one of the greatest writers of all time. Whereas many poets of the period were wealthy amateurs, dramatists were usually professionals whose income came from supplying plays for the public theatres and court. Shakespeare worked as both an actor and playwright, and during his lifetime plays were usually regarded as texts belonging to the theatres for which they were written. However, the publication of Ben Jonson's Workes in 1616, and in 1623 his own Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, Tragedies (the 'First Folio'), were milestones in the recognition of plays as lasting, influential works of literature.

Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below

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William Shakespeare's interview with Queen Elizabeth I

by William Ensom, after Thomas Stothard
etching and line engraving, 1828
NPG D41664

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William Shakespeare

published by T.H. Ellis, after John Taylor
line and stipple engraving, mid 19th century (circa 1610)
NPG D40744

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Unknown gentleman, possibly Sir Thomas Overbury, previously known as William Shakespeare

published by Richard Griffin & Co, after Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
line engraving, mid 19th century (circa 1610)
NPG D41653

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William Shakespeare before Sir Thomas Lucy for Shooting his Deer

by James Egan, after Alexander Chisholm
mezzotint, (exhibited 1834)
NPG D41662

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William Shakespeare

by Samuel Cousins, after a painting attributed to John Taylor
mezzotint, published June 1849 (circa 1610)
NPG D40739

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William Shakespeare

by Richard Austin Artlett, after a painting attributed to John Taylor
line and stipple engraving, circa 1850-1873 (circa 1610)
NPG D40740

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William Shakespeare

by Richard Austin Artlett, after a painting attributed to John Taylor
line and stipple engraving, circa 1850-1873 (circa 1610)
NPG D19482

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William Shakespeare

published by W.N. Wright, after a painting attributed to Richard Burbage (Burbadge)
lithograph, published 4 June 1851
NPG D41641

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William Shakespeare

by Sir George Scharf, after a painting attributed to John Taylor
lithograph, circa 1856 (circa 1610)
NPG D40741

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William Shakespeare

by James Faed the Elder, published by Henry Graves & Co, after John Faed
mezzotint, published 20 June 1859
NPG D41647

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William Shakespeare

by James Faed the Elder, published by Henry Graves & Co, after John Faed
mezzotint, published 1859
NPG D41648

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William Shakespeare and Muse

by Charles Henry Jeens, published by Henry Graves & Co, after Edward William John Hopley
stipple and line engraving, published 15 August 1861
NPG D41663

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William Shakespeare

by and published by Day & Son, after Martin Droeshout
lithograph, published 9 April 1864 (1623)
NPG D40736

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William Shakespeare ('Gower Memorial')

by D.J. McNeille, after Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland-Leveson-Gower
albumen print, (1888)
NPG D41661

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Unknown man called William Shakespeare

after Unknown artist
albumen print, before 1919?
NPG D41644

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William Shakespeare

by Unknown artist
line engraving
NPG D19516

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