While also being a superb writer and playwright, two professions for which he is most famously known in England and across the world, William Shakespeare also boasted an acting career! In fact, he acted in many of his own plays as well as those of other playwrights.
Astonishingly, it was completely illegal in Shakespeare’s time for either women or children to act in plays. As such, crossdressing men would play the role of any female character. Evidence of this was found through English legal documents discovered from the time, and also through copies of Shakespeare’s own plays, where the stage directions were written exclusively for men - even in regards to female characters. Can you imagine a man playing as Juliet in Shakespeare’s day and age? It sounds bizarre, and yet back then it was considered perfectly normal!
Shakespeare was an incredibly productive and accomplished man. His contributions to English literature are immeasurable, earning him his place as one of the world’s greatest writers of all time. He wrote in total, 37 plays, 154 sonnets and over 150 poems.
Shakespeare’s works stand as one of the most quoted of all time in the English language, rivalled only by the writers of the English bible. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Shakespeare wrote approximately 1/10 of the most quoted lines in the English language across all publications. We owe many everyday phrases to Shakespeare’s creative mind, including: “Vanish into thin air”, “Puking”, “Good riddance”, “Wear my heart upon my sleeve”, “Break the ice” and so on.
Before he died, Shakespeare wrote his own tombstone epitaph. It reads, “Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.” While the warning may be puzzling at first, it was a fact that during Shakespeare’s time, bones were often removed in order to make room for other burials or for research purposes. For whatever strange reason, Shakespeare did not want this to happen, and as such the epitaph was penned. To this day, his grave, and his bones, remain undisturbed.
As with many great artists and writers, Shakespeare was not appreciated during his time as he is today. While he was not an unsuccessful playwright and indeed saw fame and financial reward for the plays he composed, he was not published and only after his death when two of his coworkers began redistributing his plays did he start to receive widespread national - and later global - attention!
William Shakespeare was born on the 23rd April, 1564. He was baptised on April 26, 1564. Fifty two years later, he died on his birthday, three years after his retirement to his old home, Stratford-upon-Avon, after leading a successful playwright career in London.
Both Elizabeth I and her successor, James I were avid fans of Shakespeare’s plays. Indeed, they would often pay for his troupe to come and perform in the courts of London, or they would watch from exclusive royal booths in theaters and opera houses. Despite this, however, Shakespeare was not overly wealthy and did not receive the recognition one might expect for receiving royal favour during those times.
While it is commonly known that the literature written by William Shakespeare is studied by schoolchildren of all ages across the United Kingdom, it is also studied in many other countries around the globe, especially English-speaking countries like the United States and Canada. However, beyond that, it is also studied in many European countries, specifically for classes learning the English language.
Shakespeare was just a young man when he married his bride, a farmer’s daughte rnamed Anne Hathaway. The loving couple had three children together, Susanna, Judith and Hamnet.