51 Facts About Shakespeare


Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist.

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Shakespeare is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" .

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Shakespeare's plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

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Shakespeare remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.

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Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613.

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Shakespeare's early plays were primarily comedies and histories and are regarded as some of the best works produced in these genres.

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Shakespeare then wrote mainly tragedies until 1608, among them Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, all considered to be among the finest works in the English language.

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Many of Shakespeare's plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy in his lifetime.

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Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield in Warwickshire, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning family.

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Shakespeare was the third of eight children, and the eldest surviving son.

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Shakespeare is supposed to have taken his revenge on Lucy by writing a scurrilous ballad about him.

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Scholars differ on the exact meaning of Greene's words, but most agree that Greene was accusing Shakespeare of reaching above his rank in trying to match such university-educated writers as Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Nashe, and Greene himself .

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Some of Shakespeare's plays were published in quarto editions, beginning in 1594, and by 1598, his name had become a selling point and began to appear on the title pages.

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Shakespeare continued to act in his own and other plays after his success as a playwright.

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In 1596, the year before he bought New Place as his family home in Stratford, Shakespeare was living in the parish of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, north of the River Thames.

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Shakespeare moved across the river to Southwark by 1599, the same year his company constructed the Globe Theatre there.

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Shakespeare died within a month of signing his will, a document which he begins by describing himself as being in "perfect health".

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Shakespeare bequeathed the bulk of his large estate to his elder daughter Susanna under stipulations that she pass it down intact to "the first son of her body".

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Shakespeare did make a point of leaving her "my second best bed", a bequest that has led to much speculation.

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Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church two days after his death.

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Shakespeare has been commemorated in many statues and memorials around the world, including funeral monuments in Southwark Cathedral and Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

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Shakespeare collaborated on two further surviving plays, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen, probably with John Fletcher.

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Actors in Shakespeare's company included the famous Richard Burbage, William Kempe, Henry Condell and John Heminges.

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Burbage played the leading role in the first performances of many of Shakespeare's plays, including Richard III, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear.

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Shakespeare was replaced around 1600 by Robert Armin, who played roles such as Touchstone in As You Like It and the fool in King Lear.

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In some cases, for example, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, and Othello, Shakespeare could have revised the texts between the quarto and folio editions.

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Scholars are not certain when each of the 154 sonnets was composed, but evidence suggests that Shakespeare wrote sonnets throughout his career for a private readership.

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Shakespeare seems to have planned two contrasting series: one about uncontrollable lust for a married woman of dark complexion, and one about conflicted love for a fair young man .

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Shakespeare's first plays were written in the conventional style of the day.

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Shakespeare wrote them in a stylised language that does not always spring naturally from the needs of the characters or the drama.

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However, Shakespeare soon began to adapt the traditional styles to his own purposes.

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Shakespeare combined the two throughout his career, with Romeo and Juliet perhaps the best example of the mixing of the styles.

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Shakespeare increasingly tuned his metaphors and images to the needs of the drama itself.

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Once Shakespeare mastered traditional blank verse, he began to interrupt and vary its flow.

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Shakespeare uses it, for example, to convey the turmoil in Hamlet's mind:.

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Shakespeare combined poetic genius with a practical sense of the theatre.

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Shakespeare reshaped each plot to create several centres of interest and to show as many sides of a narrative to the audience as possible.

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Shakespeare preserved aspects of his earlier style in the later plays, however.

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Shakespeare's work has made a significant and lasting impression on later theatre and literature.

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Shakespeare influenced novelists such as Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner, and Charles Dickens.

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The American novelist Herman Melville's soliloquies owe much to Shakespeare; his Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick is a classic tragic hero, inspired by King Lear.

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Shakespeare has inspired many painters, including the Romantics and the Pre-Raphaelites.

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Shakespeare's influence extends far beyond his native England and the English language.

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Shakespeare is that unique writer: he has something for everyone.

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Shakespeare was not revered in his lifetime, but he received a large amount of praise.

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Shakespeare's works include the 36 plays printed in the First Folio of 1623, listed according to their folio classification as comedies, histories, and tragedies.

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Shakespeare conformed to the official state religion, but his private views on religion have been the subject of debate.

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Shakespeare's will uses a Protestant formula, and he was a confirmed member of the Church of England, where he was married, his children were baptised, and where he is buried.

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Some scholars claim that members of Shakespeare's family were Catholics, at a time when practising Catholicism in England was against the law.

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The strongest evidence might be a Catholic statement of faith signed by his father, John Shakespeare, found in 1757 in the rafters of his former house in Henley Street.

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In 1591, the authorities reported that John Shakespeare had missed church "for fear of process for debt", a common Catholic excuse.

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