Dark and violent, Macbeth is also the most theatrically spectacular of Shakespeare's tragedies. Promised a golden future as ruler of Scotland by three sinister witches, Macbeth murders the king to ensure his ambitions come true. But he soon learns the meaning of terror-killing once, he must kill again and again, and the dead return to haunt him. A story of war, witchcraft, and bloodshed, Macbeth also depicts the relationship between husbands and wives, and the risks they are prepared to take to achieve their desires. Macbeth is one of the last of Shakespeare's great tragedies, and is certainly one of his most disturbing. The insights it affords and the aura of evil that pervades it (it even has its own curse), means that "The Scottish Play" stands out luridly even among Shakespeare's blackest tragic brood.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in 1564. The date of his birth is not known but is traditionally April 23, which happens to be St. George's Day, and the day in 1616 on which Shakespeare died. At age eighteen he married a Stratford farmer's daughter, Anne Hathaway. They had three children. Around 1585 William joined an acting troupe on tour in Stratford from London, and thereafter spent much of his life in the capital. By 1595 he had written five of his history plays, six comedies, and his first tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. A member of the leading theatre group in London, the Chamberlain's Men, which built the Globe Theatre and frequently performed in front of Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare wrote thirty-six plays and much poetry, and earned enormous fame in his own lifetime in prelude to his immortality.