Shakespeare's only son, Hamnet, was born approximately two years after he married Anne Hathaway. The boy died in childhood, at the age of 11, in 1596, and was buried at Stratford. Hamnet had a twin sister named Judith who lived into adulthood. The poet and dramatist William D'Avenant (1606-68) was rumored to be the illegitimate son of Shakespeare, but there is no proof to substantiate this claim.
Before the publication of the First Folio in 1623, nineteen of the thirty-seven plays in Shakespeare's canon had appeared in quarto format. The editors of the First Folio branded all of the quartos fraudulent, writing in their preface that readers had been cheated by "diverse stolen and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds of injurious imposters that expos'd them." Of these quartos, all but Othello (1622) were published prior to the date of Shakespeare's retirement in 1611. So eighteen (probably fraudulent versions) of his plays were published before his death.
In Greene's Groats-worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance, Robert Greene wrote that Shakespeare was "an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey."
The six mechanicals perform the play-within-a-play Pyramus and Thisbe, looking to make names for themselves by having their production chosen among several acts as the courtly entertainment for the royal wedding party of Theseus and Hippolyta.
When Hamlet kills Polonius, Claudius recruits Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England, providing them with a letter for the King of England instructing him to have Hamlet killed. Along the journey, the distrustful Hamlet finds and rewrites the letter, instructing the executioner to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead.