William Shakespeare (1554–1616)

Not only English literature’s greatest dramatist but also one of its greatest poets. Plays performed on the Elizabethan stage were rich with poetry for both practical reasons (there were few elaborate sets or special effects, so a play’s setting had to be conjured almost entirely through words) and reasons of convention (audiences expected poetry, not realistic dialogue). Shakespeare’s reputation as a great poet would be assured even if he had written nothing but dramas.