William Shakespeare had lived through the most turbulent yet thrilling eras of English history-the period of riots, plague, political and religious tensions-and then became one of the ‘greats’ of English Literature. His works have inspired and amused audiences for hundreds of years and most children will study at least one of the works of Shakespeare in school. His works are timeless, pure and romantic. But how well do you know ‘the Bard’ the brilliant character behind the plays?
Did you know that some people think England’s beloved Bard never existed? According to one theory the literary masterpieces attributed to Shakespeare were actually written by Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford. Bringing to you some little-known facts about this literary genius that would make your head spin!
1. Shakespeare couldn’t spell his own name!
William coined more than 3,000 words! He was THE master of English vocabulary, except for spelling his own name. Rumours say that his parents were illiterate. Various sources say that his last name was spelled in 80 different ways through his lifetime, such as “Shappere” or “Shaxberd”. Even for his signature he used abbreviations so probably we would never know his correct name and neither did he knew.
2. Most quoted lines ever
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Shakespeare wrote close to a tenth of the most quoted lines ever written or spoken in English. He’s the second most quoted English writer after the writers of the Bible.
3. Never published his plays
Thanks to his fellow actors-John Hemminges and Henry Condell-they recorded and published 36 of them.
4. Stole a theatre
If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you must be aware of The Globe-the theatre that his playing company built. You’d be shocked to know how it came about. After a row with the landlord of The Theatre, his first playhouse, who refused to clean up after the actors, the Bard’s friends and actors stormed the place with weapons and stole it. They re-established it some distance away as The Globe.
5. He was into orgies big time!
He wasn’t a man who was afraid to indulge and try new things out. He and his friends had groupies quite often and later such groupies escalated with growing fame. He sure was a wealthy man and died rich too.
6. He had a quick wedding with woman at least 8 years older to him
His wife, Anne Hathaway (not the actress), was 26 then and 3 months pregnant at the time they got married while he was just 18. The wedding was a hush-hush affair, nobody knows why. Few said they weren’t in love but they had 3 children together.
You’ll be surprised that his famous sonnets which are truly romantic and beautiful poems were actually written for a young man. 126 out of 154 were addressed to a boy. His marriage appeared to be perishing after he started living alone in London and in his will he left her only his ‘second best bed’ (that would just his bed linens) giving majority of his property to his daughter. His sonnets were dedicated to ‘Mr. WH’ who probably was the wealthy Earl of Southampton Henry Wriothesley to whom William openly dedicated two of his longer poems and who was known to be gay. Seems The Bard was bit of a bad boy
8. You can read his works in Klingon
Amongst 80 languages into which his plays have been translated, Klingon-the language developed for the science fiction series ‘Star Trek’ is the most obscure.
9. Lost plays
Apart from 37 plays which have been published, it is said that at least two of his plays were lost. And during those times, there was nothing such as copyright.
10. Only 2 authentic portrait of him
No official portraits of him were painted during his lifetime, so all his existing are pure guesswork. There are only 2 authentic ones; the widely used portrait by Martin Droeshout, who was just 15 when Shakespeare died. The second is the monument in Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church.
11. The lost years
No one is sure exactly what William did in two time periods during his life where records seem to disappear(1578-1582 and 1585-192).
12. The moons of Uranus are named after Shakespearean characters
13. Few of his contemporaries were not always as impressed
14. Nobody knows Shakespeare’s true birthdate. Its’s celebrated April 23-three days before his baptism which was recorded on April 26, 1564.
15. His epitaph wards off grave robbers with a curse
He penned a curse for his grave so that nobody could dare to move his body. It read:
Good friend for Jesus’s sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
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