Home England Happy Birthday, Shakespeare! 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bard

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare! 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bard

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It is the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth! You’ve read his plays, seen the productions, and quoted him at least once or twice, but there’s always something new to learn about the bard.

1) If you disturb his grave you’ll be cursed!

If you want to visit the bard’s resting place, he is buried at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon. But be forewarned not to disturb anything! His tombstone is engraved with the following:

Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Bleste be man spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he moves my bones.

Needless to say when the church was restored in 2008 they were very careful!

2) Bardolatry is a word

noun. idolatry or excessive admiration of William Shakespeare. Bardolatry can be found in the dictionary (and wikipedia)! While appreciated during his time, it wasn’t until after his death that readers and critics began to appreciate the genius of his work.

3. We use Shakespeare-isms every day

He invented words, terms, phrases and quotes we use regularly without even knowing it. Gloomy, gossip and jaded? Shakespeare. Wearing your heart on your sleeve? Shakespeare. A method to your madness? Shakespeare. Swagger? We think of it as a very recent addition to our slang, but it first appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Read more about Shakespeare’s contributions to English here.

4. His legacy extends far beyond literature

“Scholars have identified 20,000 pieces of music linked to Shakespeare’s works. These include two operas by Giuseppe Verdi, Otello and Falstaff, whose critical standing compares with that of the source plays. Shakespeare has also inspired many painters, including the Romantics and the Pre-Raphaelites […] The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud drew on Shakespearean psychology, in particular that of Hamlet, for his theories of human nature.” (source)

5. He’s going on tour!

To celebrate the 450th anniversary of his birth, the Globe theater is embarking on a world tour. They selected Hamlet, “his most iconic play,” and plan to perform it in every country in the world! Read more about it here, and find out where you can see it here.

So happy birthday, bard! How will you celebrate? Break out your high school copy of MacBeth, check out a production near you, or head over to poets.org and discover his poems and sonnets.

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