Shakespeare Facts

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. "

William Shakespeare

  • William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 on Henley Street in Stratford-upon Avon, England
  • The exact day of his birth is unknown, but it is thought to have been the 23rd April.
  • He was baptized in Stratford's Holy Trinity Church, 1564
  • He had 7 brothers and sisters and was the third born child to his parents Mary Arden shakespeare and John Shakespeare.
  • It is thought Shakespeare attended the King's New School a local grammar school gaining an excellent education by Oxford trained teachers, studying roman poetry, drama, natural sciences, public speaking, ethics.
  • Shakespeare married the pregnant Anne Hathaway in 1582 at 17 years of age, Anne 9 years his senior.
  • There is a gap in historical records on Shakespeare from the mid 1580s to 1592.
  • In 1592 it is known that shakepseare was residing in London acting and writing, his family remained in Stratford.
  • Plays written during the Elizabethan era had to be government approved and if one was found to be offensive (morally/politically) the playwright could be imprisoned.
  • Men played all the characters even women, at the time women were not permitted to act
    No original Shakespeare play manuscripts survive today
  • William Shakespeare and other writers during the elizabethan era had no dictionary to consult like todays writers, thus Shakespeare had a vast vocabulary.
  • Shakespeare owned shares in the globe theatre on the south bank of the Thames River. A replica stands today and holds performances, not far from where the original was said to have been built.
  • Shakespeare during his time was well renowned and his theatre company the king's company was often called upon to perform at the royal court, and shakespeare himself often acted .
  • Shakespeare was a religious man, as most people of the day were however it is not known whether he was a protestant or catholic. He publicly acknowledged the church of england. Some say he was a catholic and practiced in private to avoid persecution.
  • In 1610 Shakespeare retired back to Stratford, where he died 6 years later in 1616.
    • Shakespeare was entombed in the same church he was baptised, in the Holy Trinity Church
      On his tombstone it reads:
      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.  written by shakespeare himself
  • Ben Johnson a contemporary of shakespeare wrote this dedication to shakespeare:
    Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show  
    To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.  
    He was not of an age, but for all time!  
  • Shakespeare's works are written in Early Modern English.
  • With the arrival of the French-speaking Normans in 1066, Old English underwent dramatic changes and by 1350 it had evolved into Middle English. Middle English is easier but still looks like a foreign language much of the time.By about 1450, Middle English was replaced with Early Modern English, the language of Shakespeare, which is almost identical to contemporary English
  • The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original.
  • The poet was throughout his life greatly indebted to the patronage and support of royal and noble personages; his royal patrons were Queen Elizabeth and King James I, both of whom greatly loved the drama.
  • Voted in 2000 by British citizens as being the Man of the Millenium—the most important earthling since 1000 A.D.

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