Bard of Avon, National poet of England, playwright and actor, the great William Shakespeare was baptized on 23rd April 1564. We have got some Shakespeare facts that will leave you astonished.
Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted into movies and performed in theatre for years. He has written 39 plays, 154 sonnets and three long narrative poems.
William Shakespeare is appreciated worldwide, and his plays have been translated into more than 100 languages.
No matter how much we know about him, there are still many less-known facts. Let’s scroll them.
When was he born?
Strangely, the birth date of such a renowned playwright is unknown. No birth record is found. As he was baptized on 26th April 1564, it’s assumed that Shakespeare was born on 23rd April.
Where was William Shakespeare born?
He was born in Stratford upon Avon town of England. His parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Shakespeare. William Shakespeare had seven siblings, and he was the third one.
What did John Shakespeare do?
His father was a glove maker and a rich businessman.
Marriage With Anne Hathaway
William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was just 18 years old, and she was three months pregnant with his child. Anne was eight years older than him.
They married in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford upon Avon, where William Shakespeare and their children were baptized.
They both had three kids Susanna Shakespeare and twins, Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare.
Literacy in the family
John and Mary Shakespeare were illiterate, but can you believe William Shakespeare, who was taught in university, never attended a university?
Yes, William Shakespeare never went to a university, and he is often criticized.
Along with William Shakespeare, his children were not educated either. No record of their formal education has been found. They might have been given education at home but no university.
Women were not educated in the Elizabethan era; Susanna and Judith Shakespeare remained at home. However, Susanna could do the signature, which shows that she might have known to read and write.
Death of Shakespeare
Shakespeare died on the same date he was born, 23 April, at 52. He was buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford upon Avon. The cause of his death is unknown.
Before death, he met his fellow playwright Ben Jonson and enjoyed good company.
Will of William
William Shakespeare wrote his will a month before he died. In his will, he gave most of his wealth and belonging to his elder daughter, Susanna.
I know you must wonder that if he gave everything to Susanna, what did he give to his wife, Anne Hathaway?
Second Best Bed
Yes, You read it right. “The Second best bed” was given to Anne Hathaway by Shakespeare in his will.
Some critics see this “Second best bed” as an insult to Anne. They believe he insulted her by giving only a bed.
Others believe in a different story. They see the “Second best bed” as a symbol of romantic love.
Cursed Grave in Stratford upon Avon
In some fun facts about Shakespeare, the most surprising fact is that there is a curse spelt on his gravestone. But who did so?
Well, no one but Shakespeare himself did so. But why?
It was very common to steal body parts from the graves for research purposes. (like Albert Einstein’s mind)Sometimes bodies were shifted to make room for more graves.
He didn’t want his body to be torn down or shifted. Hence, he wrote a curse on this Epitaph to warn grave robbers.
The Epitaph on Shakespeare’s Gravestone
Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare, (Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear)
To digg the dvst encloased heare. (To dig the dust enclosed here)
Bleste be yͤ man yͭ spares thes stones, ( Blessed be the man that spares these stones,)
And cvrst be he yͭ moves my bones (And cursed be he that moves my bones.)
Is Shakespeare’s Skull stolen?
An archaeologist, Kevin Colls from Staffordshire University, scanned the grave of William Shakespeare, and to his amusement, he found the skull was missing from Shakespeare’s grave.
He strongly believes that the skull is not there in Shakespeare’s remains.
It is strange that in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the main protagonist Hamlet talks to the skull of Yorick. Skull was important for Shakespeare.
Having three children and four grandchildren, Shakespeare has no descendants.
His elder daughter Susanna married John Hall, and they both had a daughter named Elizabeth Hall. Elizabeth married twice but had no children from either marriage.
Hamnet died at the very young age of Eleven. The reason for death is not known.
The famous play by Shakespeare, Hamlet, was written after Hamnet’s death. Most probably in his memory.
Third, Daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney. They had three sons, Shakespeare, Richard and Thomas Quiney.
Shakespeare Quiney died as an infant, and Richard and Thomas died as adults without getting married or having kids.
In Shakespeare’s relatives, descendants of his sister Joan Shakespeare are alive.
Can You Spell Shakespeare’s Name Right?
There are more than 80 variations of the spelling of Shakespeare’s last name. Shakespeare’s signatures are in different spellings.
He has spelt his name as William Shakspere, Willm Shakp, William Shaksper, Willm Shakspere, William Shakspeare and others.
The variations in signature make literary historians doubt if Shakespeare was one person or many who used this name to publish their work.
Shakespeare Facts- Professional Life
We all know William Shakespeare for his outstanding plays. But what did he do before becoming a famous playwright?
It is believed that before becoming a playwright, Shakespeare used to hold horses of people who came to watch theatre.
He took retirement from work in 1613, at the age of 49, to stay in his hometown. After three years, Shakespeare died, leaving a great literary fortune for readers.
A good businessmen
Apart from writing good plays, Shakespeare was a wealthy businessman. In his home town Stratford upon Avon, he was a businessman and property owner.
Shakespeare’s plays were the greatest of all Elizabethan artists. There are more William Shakespeare facts that we going to discuss.
Shakespeare started his theatrical career by writing historical plays. His first historical plays were Henry vi (all the parts), Richard iii and Titus Andronicus.
Titus Andronicus is a tragedy that he wrote in collaboration with George Peele. It is a play with violence, revenge, 14 murders and brutal rapes.
Other historical plays by Henry iv, Henry viii, Richard ii, Edward iii, Edward ii, King Lear and others.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Midsummer Night’s dream is a comedy and the most performed play by Shakespeare. However, famous journalists Samuel Pepys of Shakespeare’s time called this play “the most insipid ridiculous play I ever saw”.
This play is not about one night of midsummer, contrary to its title. It takes 3-4 nights to finish the action.
The Comedy of Errors
This play is the shortest of Shakespeare’s works. It is only 1170 lines long.
The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors are the only plays in William Shakespeare’s lifetime that follow all three unity. (unity of action, unity of place and unity of time)
Hamlet is the longest play by Shakespeare. It takes four hours to perform this masterpiece.
Shakespeare facts- Lost years of Shakespeare’s Life
From 1585 to 1592, Shakespeare disappears from the public domain. Nobody knows these days where Shakespeare lived and what did he do?
William as an Actor
Shakespeare wrote many plays but also acted in some. In the play of Ben Jonson, “Everyman in His Humour,” Shakespeare plays the role of aged Kn’wel.
He acted in some of his plays too.
The Globe Theatre was created by Shakespeare’s theatre company Lord Chamberlain’s Man. It was destroyed in the fire of 1613 and reopened in 1614. However, it was again shut down in 1642.
A new theatre named Shakespeare’s Globe opened in 1997 on the same site.
Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe?
Scholars suspect Shakespeare of being his contemporary playwright Christopher Marlow. Marlow was a spy of queen Elizabeth and died mysteriously.
Some believe Marlow didn’t die but disappeared and continued to write in disguise.
Literary historians remain skeptical as variation has been found in Shakespeare’s Signature.
Francis bacon was also seen as the author of Shakespeare’s plays as his plays were attributed to Shakespeare.
Criticism by Other Playwrights
Other playwrights like Robert Greene criticized him for copying stuff.
Robert Greene ( member of University Wits), in his pamphlet “Greene’s Groats-Worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance,” called Shakespeare “an upstart crow beautified with our feathers.”
On the other hand, many poets and writers worshipped him like a God. John Keats was very fond of Shakespeare. He kept a bust of Shakespeare on his desk while writing to get the same spark as him.
Never Published his plays.
Of all William Shakespeare’s facts, this is the most surprising one. He never published his plays. His friends were publishing all his works. John Danter published Titus Andronicus.
First Folio is a collection of Shakespeare’s plays published by Edward Blount, William Jaggard, John Heminge, and Henry Condell.
Initially, it was published under “Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories and Tragedies.”
Wrote Sonnets for Survival
Shakespeare wrote sonnets for survival. During the plague, the theatre was closed from 1593 to 1594. During that period, he started to write sonnets.
Apart from romantic sonnets, he has written long narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. These poems are based on sexual themes.
Suicide in his Plays
Unlucky 13 number appears in the number of suicide in Shakespeare’s plays. Young protagonists Romeo and Juliet commit suicide in the play Romeo and Juliet. Brutus and Cassius in Julius Caesar, Othello in Othello and Ophelia in Hamlet, commit suicide.
Shakespeare had a great relationship with the royal court. Both Queemed many times in front of Queen Elizabeth.
King Jam Both Queen Elizabeth and King James appreciated him.es
King James appointed Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain’s man as Grooms of the Chamber. Soon the name of the acting company was changed to “The King’s Men.”
Oxford English Dictionary
Shakespeare has given new words to the English Language. The count is 1,700 words. The words that appear the first time in his plays are downstairs, hurry, kissing, undress, worthless, etc.
He added a very long word in Love’s Labor Lost. The word “Honorificabilitudinitatibus” means invincible glorious honorableness.
He also used the word dog/ dogs over two hundred times in his works.
Shakespeare loved birds. More than six hundred references to birds are given in his works.
William Shakespeare’s Appearance
Shakespeare wore a gold hoop earring in his left ear.
We have discussed many William Shakespeare facts. Let’s revise them in short.
- English’s famous Bard’s birthday is not known.
- He died on the same day he was born.
- Shakespeare’s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare.
- William married a widower Anne Hathaway.
- He has no descendants.
- Shakespeare never went to university.
- He cursed his grave.
- Archaeologist Kevin Colls scanned his grave and found that the skull was missing.
- There is more than eighty signature of Shakespeare.
- Samuel Pepys called A Midsummer Night’s Dream an insipid play.
- Shakespeare didn’t follow the three unities of Aristotle in his plays. Except in The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors.
- From 1585 to 1592, Shakespeare disappeared from the public domain.
- Shakespeare was a versatile actor too. He acted in many plays.
- He started his theatre, The Globe Theatre.
- University Wit, Robert Greene called Shakespeare an “Upstart Crow!”
- John Keats kept a bust of Shakespeare on his desk to get some inspiration.
- This famous playwright never published his plays or sonnets.
- Shakespeare wrote sonnets to survive the plague.
- Suicide is committed thirteen times by his characters.
- He has added 1700 words to Oxford English Dictionary.
So, How many of these William Shakespeare facts left you Jolted?