To put Othello into perspective, you'll need to know a little about William Shakespeare and why the play is still so popular over 400 years after it was first performed.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon in 1564. His father sold gloves and became an important person in the town. William, one of eight children, was the eldest son and was probably educated at the local grammar school. He married when he was only 18 and his wife, Anne Hathaway, was eight years older than him. They had two girls and a boy (who died aged 11).
Nobody knows how Shakespeare began to write or when he entered the theatre, but we know that he became a leading member of the theatre troupe known as 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men'. The company proved very popular and later, when King James I granted them the right to perform at his court, the troupe became known as 'The King's Men'. Shakespeare wrote over 30 plays for 'The King's Men', making it the most important theatre company in the country, and he often wrote parts for particular actors. He was very successful and wealthy in his time, and his work has remained very popular ever since.