Today marks the 456th birthday (stumblingly) of the legendary poet, playwright and dramatist, William Shakespeare!
I say roughly because the truth is that nobody really knows exactly when Shakespeare was born. Whilst baptism records indicate that he was baptised on 26, April 1564, there are no birth records. However, historians and biographers agree that 23, April 1564 is the most likely birthdate.
It would be rather suitably poetic that Shakespeare was born on 23, April 1564 as he died on 23, April, exactly 52 years later. It also happens that his birthday lands on St Georges Day, the patron saint of England. Fitting as William Shakespeare is regarded as the national poet of England.
To celebrate, here are 10 facts about the literary legend, William Shakespeare!
1. The brilliant romantic poet John Keats kept a bust of Shakespeare by his desk in the hope that Shakespeare would spark his creativity.
2. The first literary criticism that Shakespeare received was from Robert Greene. He stated that due to Shakespeare’s lack of university education, he could never write as witty or intellectually as other writers of the time.
3. Shakespeare met Queen Elizabeth I, who often enjoyed his plays.
4. Many of Shakespeare’s plays were based on historical events and dramatised for the entertainment purposes of a play.
5. Shakespeare’s plays are usually separated into three main divisions: Comedies, Histories and Tragedies.
6. Shakespeare introduced between 1700 and 3000 words to the English language.
7. During the middle ages, witches were feared amongst the general public and so Shakespeare’s play Macbeth was not only unpopular but caused a little controversy and anxiety. To this day, there is a superstition within the theatre against saying the name “Macbeth” aloud.
8. Despite Shakespeare’s literary success, his children were all illiterate.
9. The Shakespeare name ended with his granddaughter, Elizabeth Barnard in 1670, just 54 years after Shakespeare’s death.
10. This means that nobody knows how Shakespeare’s career began or how he was able to rise to fame so quickly.