Monday, April 23, 2012

Some Interesting Facts about William Shakespeare

23rd April. It is the birthday of William Shakespeare. Happy Birthday, Mr. William Shakespeare!

Shakespeare is a big mystery even  four hundred years after his death.  We know little about the life of this great genius.  All we know is about his works. A person lives by his works, not by the years. Indeed!

I was thinking about how to celebrate the day this year . Last year we did it with a big yummy cake and  high-flying talks. As it is a hartal day, I have planned something that I can do sitting at my desk. Here I have tried to present some interesting facts about Shakespeare and his works.

All of the information has been taken from internet. I have just arranged them in a way I thought it would be interesting.

Facts about his birthdate and family

1. William Shakespeare was born in 1564, but his exact birthdate is unknown. He was baptized on April 26 of that year, so his birth would have been shortly before. But the interesting fact is that he was born under the old Julian calendar, not the current Gregorian calendar that was created in 1582 and adopted in England in 1751. What was April 23 during Shakespeare's life would be May 3 on today's calendar.

3. William's father, John Shakespeare was the Mayor of Stratford. But according to report John was a money lender! He was accused in the Exchequer Court of Usury for lending money at the inflated rate of 20% and 25% Interest!

5. Shakespeare's family were all illiterate!

6. Shakespeare's grandchildren all died - he had no descendents

7. Shakespeare did not go to college.

Mystery about his name

8.   Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. In none of them does he spell his name in what has become the standard way. He spells it Shakespe; Shakspe; Shakspere and Shakespear, “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” “Wm Shakspe,” “William Shakspere,” ”Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare”--but never “William Shakespeare.”

So, you can’t scold someone if he/she misspells his name!

About His Marriage

9. His wife Anne Hathaway was eight years older than Shakespeare and three months pregnant when they got married! Shakespeare was eighteen when he married Anne Hathaway in 1582. She was 26. Their first child was born six months after the wedding!

10. Shakespeare and Anne Hathawy had three children together – a son, Hamnet, who died in 1596, and two daughters, Susanna and Judith. His only granddaughter Elizabeth – daughter of Susanna – died childless in 1670. Shakespeare therefore has no descendants.

Facts about his Career

12. Sometime in the mid 1580′s, Shakespeare moved to London from his home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

13. Almost no information exists about Shakespeare’s activities from the time he moved to London to 1592, when he was described as an up-and-coming playwright in the London theater scene. Because of this, the years 1585 to 1592 are called “the lost years”.

14. During his life, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets! This means an average 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. His last play The Two Noble Kinsmen is reckoned to have been written in 1613 when he was 49 years old. While he was writing the plays at such a pace he was also conducting a family life, a social life and a full business life, running an acting company and a theatre!

15. Few people realise that apart from writing his numerous plays and sonnets, Shakespeare was also an actor who performed many of his own plays as well as those of other playwrights. During his life Shakespeare performed before Queen Elizabeth I and, later, before James I who was an enthusiastic patron of his work.

16. According to reports, Shakespeare wrote quickly and with ease; Fellow playwright Ben Jonson said “Whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line.”

17. Because of the plague outbreak in Europe, all London playhouses were closed between 1592 and 1594 because it was thought that crowded places helped facilitate the spread of the disease. During this period, because there was no demand for Shakespeare’s plays, he began to write poetry.

18. In 1594, Shakespeare became one of the founders of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, an acting/theater group that soon became the leading player’s company in London.

19. Shakespeare and his company built TWO Globe Theatres!

20. Shakespeare is always referred to as an Elizabethan playwright, but as most of his most popular plays were written after Elizabeth’s death he was actually more of a Jacobean writer. His later plays also show the distinct characteristics of Jacobean drama.

Facts about Publication

21. Though the printing press existed and books were being mass-produced all over Europe, Shakespeare had little interest in seeing his plays in print. He’d written them not to be read, but to be performed on stage.

22. Shakespeare never published any of his plays!

23. The majority of his plays were only published seven years after his death!

24. Many eminent Authors and Politicians do not believe that Shakespeare wrote his plays...

25. Shakespeare’s was said to have an extensive vocabular; his works contained more than 30,000 different words.

26. Many of Shakespeare's plays are based on others' earlier plays, histories, and poems. This was common practice at that time.

His innovations

27. The following commonly used phrases are thought to be originally coined by William Shakespeare:
All that glitters is not gold;All’s well that ends well;Dead as a doornail;Fancy-free;Fool’s paradise;For goodness’ sake;Good riddance;Heart of gold;In a pickle;Knock knock! Who’s there?;Laughing stock;Love is blind;Naked truth;Neither rhyme nor reason;One fell swoop;Star-crossed lovers;Pomp and circumstance;Pound of flesh;Primrose path;Too much of a good thing;Wear my heart upon my sleeve;What’s in a name?;Wild goose chase; The world’s my oyster  etc.


Yes, the following is about the scandals in his life!

28. Shakespeare is rumoured to be the father of an illegitimate son - William Davenant!

29. Scandalous Facts! Shakespeare's daughter, Judith married a man called Thomas Quiney - but failed to get a special license to marry and, on March 12th 1616, Judith and Thomas Quiney were both excommunicated!

30. More scandalous Shakespeare Family Facts! It transpired that Thomas Quiney had made another girl pregnant and was prosecuted for 'carnal copulation'

31. Based on textual evidence in the sonnets and some plays, some believe that Shakespeare was bisexual.


32. We do not really know what Shakespeare looked like! Not one portrait was painted of Shakespeare whilst he was still alive!

33. The American President Abraham Lincoln was a great lover of Shakespeare’s plays and frequently recited from them to his friends. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a famous Shakespearean actor.

His Death

34. Shakespeare returned to Stratford after he finished work on The Tempest, in 1611.

35. He lived to 52. It is known that he was born in April 1564 and that he died on 23rd April 1616. We know that he was born on April 23rd. He therefore died on his fifty-second birthday.

36. Shakespeare was buried in the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. He put a curse on anyone daring to move his body from that final resting place. His epitaph was:
Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

Though it was customary to dig up the bones from previous graves to make room for others, Shakespeare’s remains are still undisturbed.

Last but not the least (also coined by Shakespeare) almost four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death there are 157 million pages referring to him on Google. There are 132 million for God, 2.7 million for Elvis Presley! Of course excluding this page…