A list of interesting Shakespeare facts.
- Shakespeare was born 26 April 1564, Stratford. (only later changed to Stratford Upon Avon)
- Shakespeare is widely considered the world’s greatest dramatist.
- He wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets.
- Shakespeare is most likely to have received a classical Latin education at King’s New School in Stratford.
- He married Anne Hathaway when he was only 18;
- Anne (26) was 3 months pregnant when they married.
- Their first child, Susanna was born six months after their marriage.
- They later had two twins, Hamnet and Judith.
- Shakespeare had seven brothers and sisters
- Shakespeare worked as an actor, writer and co-owner of a drama company called the ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Men’- Later known as the King’s Men.
- His greatest plays include Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet.
- The first publishing of Shakespeare’s works is the ‘First Folio’ published in 1623.
- In the introduction to the First Folio, playwright Ben Johnson wrote a preface to Shakespeare’s work with the quote ‘(Shakespeare) is not of an age, but for all time.‘
- Shakespeare’s popularity blossomed after the Romantic period and during the Victorian period – receiving the praise of poets, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Victor Hugo and Voltaire.
- Romantic poet John Keats kept a bust of Shakespeare near his desk in the hope that Shakespeare would spark his creativity
- ‘Bardolatry’ was a term coined by George Bernard Shaw to illustrate the reverence held by many Victorians for anything Shakespeare.
- By 1592, Shakespeare was receiving his first literary criticism with playwright Robert Greene, criticising Shakespeare for being a ‘Jack of all trades’ – a second-rate tinkerer with the work of others.
- This criticism may be motivated by the fact Shakespeare was not university educated like contemporary writers such as Christopher Marlowe.
- Early praise for Shakespeare came from writers such as Ben Johnson. Jonson remarked of Shakespeare he was the – “Soul of the age, the applause, delight, the wonder of our stage”
- Shakespeare acted in many of his plays.
- Shakespeare was acquainted with Queen Elizabeth I.
- After the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare’s company was awarded a royal patent by the new King James I and changed its name to the Kings Men.
- Shakespeare is often referred to as Elizabethan playwright, but most of his players were written in the Jacobean period.
- In 1599, the company built their own theatre, The Globe on the south banks of the River Thames.
- Shakespeare lived through an outbreak of the bubonic plague in London (1524-94) and 1609. The plague also came to Stratford, when Shakespeare was just 3 months old
- Many of Shakespeare’s plays were based on historical accounts, dramatised by Shakespeare. He also dramatised stories from classical writers such as Plutarch and Holinshed.
- Hamlet was based on a well known Scandinavian legend called -Amleth,
- Shakespeare’s plays contain 200 references to dogs and 600 references to birds.
- In 1890, Eugene Schiffelin an American ‘Bardolator’ decided to import every kind of bird mentioned in Shakespeare but not native to America. This included a flock of 60 starlings released in New York. Starlings have now driven many native birds to the edge of extinction.
- Shakespeare’s plays are usually separated into three main divisions
Comedies – ‘All’s well that Ends Well’, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’
Histories – ‘Henry V’
Tragedies – ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’, and ‘Othello’.
- There are those who question whether William Shakespeare was actually the author of the plays, attributed to him. Other contenders include the ‘Oxford school’ – suggesting Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was a better contender.
- Shakespeare was the most quoted author in Samuel Johnson’s early “Dictionary of the English Language’
- Before Shakespeare, the English language was much less codified with no official dictionary and many variations on spelling.
- Shakespeare has given many words (estimate of 1,700 – 3,000) to the English language.
- Estimations of Shakespeare’s vocabulary range from 17,000 to 29,000 words.
- Shakespeare has given many memorable phrases to the English language, such as “wild goose chase”, “foregone conclusion” “in a pickle”
- Shakespeare has given many memorable insults, “Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous.”, “You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!”, “Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!”
- Shakespeare never seemed to spell his name properly, often signing his name “Willm Shakp,”
- By others, he was referred to by over 80 different names, such as Shaxberd.” and “Shappere”
- Macbeth was often unpopular for its reference to witches which created fear in the middle ages. There remains a long theatre superstition of saying aloud the name ‘Macbeth’
- In his will, he appeared to only give his wife (Anne) a bed.
- Shakespeare’s grave includes a curse against moving his bones.
The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works 2nd Edition
Shakespeare: The Biography
Shakespeare: The Biography at Amazon
Famous English people – Famous English men and women. From Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I to Henry VIII and Winston Churchill. Includes the great poets – William Shakespeare, William Blake and William Wordsworth.
Great Briton list – Top 100 famous Britons as voted by a BBC poll. Including Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Thomas Cromwell and Queen Elizabeth I.
Writers and authors – Famous authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.