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Which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. The playwright, born over 400 years ago, has become famous all over the world.

  2. The playwright, born over 400 years ago, had become famous all over the world.

Context: The 'Playwright' refers to William Shakespeare. This line is from a passage about him. I am speaking of the present day.

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  • The pairing of 'over 400 years ago' (pointing to the time of speaking/writing) with 'had become' (pointing to some previous point in time, eg 'had by 1820 become famous ...') might be considered slightly jarring without the by-phrase. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 14 '17 at 9:54
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    Either is grammatically correct; it depends whether you are speaking of the present day or of Shakespeare's reputation at some time in the past. – Kate Bunting Feb 14 '17 at 10:02
  • I am speaking of the present day. – Mriganka Parasar Feb 14 '17 at 10:27
  • "had become" means that he became famous in the past. Often there will be a qualifier indicating when this occurred, e.g. "had become famous by the time he died". – Barmar Feb 14 '17 at 20:15
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(2) The playwright, born over 400 years ago, had become famous all over the world.

With no other context, (2) suggests that the playwright , at some point, had stopped becoming famous. That would be correct if the intent was to say the playwright's fame had propagated everywhere in the past but was not propagating now. The use of the past perfect (had become) would mean the action was completely finished in the past.

(1) The playwright, born over 400 years ago, has become famous all over the world.

(1) means that the action of the playwright becoming famous began in the past, but did not end in the past. The present perfect (has become) means the action began in the past and continued until recently, but not beyond the present.
Which sentence is more correct is a matter for the author to determine based on which time frame is more accurate.

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Grammatically, both the sentences are correct; but thematically, they are not so acceptable. The simple present tense, which being an all-inclusive time tense, is the more suitable tense form to talk about the fame of a playwright like William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare, born over 400 years ago, is famous all over the world. = He was, he is, and he will be famous all over the world.

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