Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Birthday (and, errr, Death Day), William Shakespeare!

Today marks the day historians claim as the birth and death day of one of the greatest literary figures of all time--William Shakespeare. Born April 23, 1564 and said to have died on the same day in 1616, Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets, more than 35 plays, and other scribblings in his relatively short life.

I've always been a Shakespeare fan myself, memorizing my favorite sonnets before bed, reading play
aloud with friends (voices and all, it's true), and enjoying a live performance when I could find an affordable one. This past February, I even got the chance to visit Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, just outside of London, when in the UK with my boyfriend.
Downtown Stratford-upon-Avon

While I didn't get the opportunity to truly explore (yet), just being there and seeing the small mentions of Shakespeare throughout the town was an awesome experience. On the agenda for next time: Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried and his wife Anne Hathaway's house, among others sites.

In the meantime, I'll have to settle for what I can get from New Jersey to celebrate his birth/death day today--books, film adaptations, and even a package of Shakespeare-themed mints that I won during a study session for my Shakespeare final in college.

And, of course, these random fun facts I found on No Sweat Shakespeare:
  • ‘William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of ‘I am a weakish speller’.  
  • All Uranus’s satellites are named after Shakespearean characters.  
  • Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was 18. She was 26 and she was pregnant when they married. Their first child was born six months after the wedding. (Ooooh, scandal!)
  • Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language – after the various writers of the Bible.
  • Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. In none of them does he spell his name in what has become the standard way. He spells it Shakespe; Shakspe; Shakspere and Shakespear. 
  • Almost four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death there are 157 million pages referring to him on Google. There are 132 million for God, 2.7 million for Elvis Presley, and coming up on Shakespeare’s heels, George W Bush with 14.7 million. 
  • Two of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, have been translated into Klingon. The Klingon Language Institute plans to translate more! (If you’re into quirky Shakespeare facts check our our  list of 23 things you never knew about Shakespeare)
 See the whole list of Shakespeare facts HERE

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