"No, I'll not weep. / I have full cause of weeping, but this heart / Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws / Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!" (Lear speaking, Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 1, Scene 1, 228-238).
William Shakespeare—playwright, poet, actor, man of the theater—is probably the best-known writer in the English language, and perhaps its most highly regarded. Writing during a time of great social upheaval and political turmoil, he was part of a theatrical world where the complex interplay between entertainment, literature, market forces, urbanization, politics, and religion resulted in an extraordinary age of dramatic and literary achievements.