1904 Biography. William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright who is now regarded as the greatest writer of the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His surviving works include at least 38 plays, two long narrative poems, 154 sonnets, and a few other poems. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.