Ferdowsi was born in the Iranian province of Khorasan in a village near Tous, in AD 935. His great epic the Shahnameh ("The Epic of Kings"), to which he devoted most of his adult life, was originally composed for eventual presentation to the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Iranian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. During Ferdowsi's lifetime this dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks, and there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan, Sultan Mahmoud Ghaznavi, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. Ferdowsi is said to have died around AD 1020 in poverty and embittered by royal neglect, though fully confident of his work's ultimate success and fame.
His masterwork, the Shahnameh is considered the Iranian national epic by many. The Shahnameh or the "Book of Kings", consists of the translation of an even older Pahlavi (Middle Persian) work. It has been a work of exceptional popularity among the Persians for over 1000 years now.
Ferdowsi is one of the undisputed giants of Persian literature. After Ferdowsi's Shahnameh a number of other works similar in nature surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere of the Persian language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and method on Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity as Ferdowsi's masterpiece.