William Shakespeare facts are few and far between.
While we know alot about the playwright's works, Shakespeare
facts concerning the Bard's personal life are less forthcoming.
Nobody knows Shakespeares true birthday. The
closest we can come is the date of his baptism on April
the 26th, 1564. By tradition and guesswork, William
is assumed to have been born three days earlier on April
the 23rd, a date now commonly used to celebrate the
famous Bard's birthday.
The Bard coined the phrase, "the beast with
two backs" meaning intercourse in his play
Shakespeare invented the word "assassination".
There are only two authentic portraits of William today;
the widely used engraving of William Shakespeare by
Martin Droeshout first published on the title page of
the 1623 First Folio and the monument of the great playwright
in Stratford's Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.
William married a woman nearly twice his age. Anne
Hathaway was 26 years old when William married her at
age 18. They married at Temple Grafton, a village approximately
five miles (8 km) from Stratford. Anne Hathaway was
said to be from Shottery.
Shakespeare and wife had eight children, including
daughter Susanna, twins Hamnet, Judith, and Edmund.
Susanna received most of the Bard's fortune when he
died in 1616, age 52. Hamnet died at age 11, Judith
at 77. Susanna dies in 1649, age 66.
There were two Shakespeare families living in Stratford
when William was born; the other family did not become
Shakespeare, one of literatures greatest figures,
never attended university.
Of the 154 sonnets or poems, the playwright penned,
his first 26 were said to be directed to an aristocratic
young man who did not want to marry. Sonnets 127 - 152
talk about a dark woman, the Bard seems to have had
mixed feelings for.
Most academics agree that William wrote his first play,
Henry VI, Part One around 1589 to 1590 when he
would have been roughly 25 years old.
The Bard is believed to have started writing the first
of his 154 sonnets in 1593 at age 29. His first sonnet
was Venus and Adonis published in the same year.
William lived through the Black Death. This epidemic
that killed over 33,000 in London alone in 1603 when
Will was 39, later returned in 1608.
The Bard lost a play. The play Cardenio that
has been credited to the Bard and which was performed
in his life, has been completely lost to time. Today
we have no written record of its story whatsoever.
The Great Bard suffered breech of copyright. In 1609,
many of his sonnets were published without the bards
The famous playwright died in 1616 at the age of 52.
He wrote on average 1.5 plays a year since he
first started in 1589. His last play The Two Noble
Kinsmen is reckoned to have been written in 1613
when he was 49 years old.
William never published any of his plays. We read his
plays today only because his fellow actors John Hemminges
and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work as
a dedication to their fellow actor in 1623, publishing
36 of Williams plays. This collection known as
The First Folio is the source from which all
published Shakespeare books are derived and is an important
proof that he authored his plays.
William was born to a Stratford tanner named John Shakespeare.
His mother Mary was the daughter of a wealthy gentleman-farmer
named Robert Arden.
Legend has it that at the tender age of eleven, William
watched the pageantry associated with Queen Elizabeths
visit to Kenilworth Castle near Stratford and later
recreated this scene many times in his plays.
Unlike most famous artists of his time, the Bard did
not die in poverty. When he died, his will contained
several large holdings of land.
Few people realize that aside from writing 37 plays
and composing 154 sonnets, William was also an actor
who performed many of his own plays as well as those
of other playwrights (Ben Jonson).
As an actor performing his own plays, William performed
before Queen Elizabeth I and later before James I who
was an enthusiastic patron of his work.
Will wrote lewd comments about woman. In Romeo and
Juliet, Juliets nurse crudely tells Juliet
"thou (you) wilt (will) fall backward
when thou (you) hast (have) more wit"
(Act I, Scene III, Line 41), by which she means Juliet
will learn to fall or lie on her back (have sex) when
she is older.
The Bard crudely discusses genitalia size in The
Taming of the Shrew where the character Curtis tells
Grumio, "Away, you three-inch fool"
(Act IV, Scene I, Lines 26-28). Grumio banally replies
that he is at least as long as his foot.
Will dabbled in property development. At age 18, he
bought the second most prestigious property in all of
Stratford, The New Place and later he doubled
his investment on some land he bought near Stratford.
Even Shakespeare had his critics. One called Robert
Greene described the young playwright as an "upstart
young crow" or arrogant upstart, accusing him
of borrowing ideas from his seniors in the theatre world
for his own plays.
Williams 126th poem contains a farewell, to
"my lovely boy" a phrase taken to imply
possible homosexuality by some postmodern Shakespeare
The Bard's will gave most of his property to Susanna,
his first child and not to his wife Anne Hathaway. Instead
his loyal wife infamously received his "second-best
The Bard's second best bed wasnt so bad, it was
his marriage bed; his best bed was for guests.
Until The First Folio was published seven years
after his death in 1616, very little personal information
was ever written about the Bard..
William was known as a keen businessman to many in
his home town of Stratford.
Suicide occurs an unlucky thirteen times in Shakespeares
plays. It occurs in Romeo and Juliet where both
Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, in Julius Caesar
where both Cassius and Brutus die by consensual stabbing,
as well as Brutus wife Portia, in Othello
where Othello stabs himself, in Hamlet where
Ophelia is said to have "drowned" in
suspicious circumstances, in Macbeth when Lady
Macbeth dies, and finally in Antony and Cleopatra
where suicide occurs an astounding five times (Mark
Antony, Cleopatra, Charmian, Iras and Eros).
Racism crops up frequently in the Bard's work. In Othello,
the lead character , a Moor of African descent, is continuously
insulted for his heritage and appearance (especially
in Act I) by his enemies and even his supporters (Lodovico)
at the plays conclusion when Othello murders his
wife for mistakenly believing she cheated. Racism also
occurs in Titus Andronicus (towards the Moor
named Aaron), The Tempest where the misformed
giant Caliban is called "this thing of darkness"
(Act V, Line 275), and in Richard II.
Anti-Semitism also crops up. The Jewish moneylender
Shylock in the Merchant of Venice is portrayed
as greedy and calculating. At the plays conclusion
he is forced to change religion to Christianity as punishment
for wanting "a pound of flesh" from
Antonio who agreed to this if his friend forfeited a
debt to Shylock. Being a Jew is used as a curse in Henry
the First, Part Two (Act II, Scene IV, Line 178),
in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act II, Scene
V, Line 53), The Merchant of Venice, Anthony
and Cleopatra, Much Ado about Nothing , Macbeth
and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
The Bard's characters frequently debase those of colored
skin. In Loves Labours Lost, the
character King Ferdinand, King of Navarre, racially
remarks that "Black is the badge of hell, the
hue of dungeons and the scowl of night" (Act
IV, Scene III, Lines 254-255).
William was popular with King James I. Englands
ruler following Elizabeth I was so taken with the Bards
skill that he gave his acting company, The Lord Chamberlains
Men a patent allowing them to perform and also made
these actors Grooms of Chamber. The Bard returned the
favor by renaming his company, The Kings Men.
This title made William a favorite for Court performances
and made him a favorite with the new King of England.
William Shakespeare is one of the most identifiable
icons of England. Others include members of Englands
Royal family, Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, and red double-decker