What was happening in North America when
Shakespeare was born in 1564, a year before the Spanish established a settlement at St. Augustine, Florida. During his lifetime, a number of small European and English settlements were founded in what is now Canada and the United States, but Native Americans still made up almost the entire population of North America. European and English explorers also continued their journeys in the Americas during Shakespeare’s lifetime.
In the 1590s, Shakespeare achieved his first major professional successes as a published poet and a playwright in London. In the same decade, Sir Walter Raleigh established temporary English settlements at Roanoke in the Virginia Colony, named for the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.
During the early 1600s, Shakespeare’s many new plays included Macbeth, a play that was set in Scotland to honor the new English king, James I, who was also king of Scotland. In 1607, English colonists in Virginia established Jamestown, named for the king, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Other European outposts also were founded at about this time, including a 1607 Spanish settlement that became Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a 1608 French settlement at Quebec City in what is now Canada.
Shakespeare died in 1616. By then, Dutch colonists had just established a fort where Albany, New York, is now located. It would be another four years, however, before pilgrims sailing from England on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth in 1620.