Four hundred and fifty years ago, William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564.
In honor of this historic event, we present this short video we created about Romeo & Juliet, but with a much happier ending to the story.
1. His actual birth date is not known, but he was baptized on April 26th, which leads many scholars to believe that he was born on April 23rd. Since he died on April 23, 1616, if scholars are correct about his birth date, he would have died on his 52nd birthday.
2. During his lifetime, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets! This means he wrote an average of 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589.
3. Even though he is renowned for writing plays and sonnets, his claimed profession was an actor. He played parts in plays he wrote as well as many written by others.
4. Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language––after the various writers of the Bible.
5. Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. On these documents, he spells his last name as “Shakespe,” “Shakspe,” “Shakspere,” or “Shakespear” but never “Shakespeare,” which is the standard spelling today. There are more than 80 variations recorded for his full name.
6. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, it was illegal for women and girls to perform in the theater, so all the female parts were written for boys or young men.
7. Copyrights didn’t exist during Shakespeare’s time, so it wasn’t uncommon for plays to be copied illegally. In an effort to protect the play, the actors would be cued or fed lines by someone backstage as the play was performed.
8. In Psalm 46 of the King James Bible, the 46th word down from the top is ‘shake,’ and the 46th word up from the bottom is ‘spear’. Some think this was a hidden birthday message to William Shakespeare on his 46th birthday, as the King James Bible was published in the same year (1611).
9. Unlike most artists during his time, Shakespeare was a very wealthy businessman. He brilliantly formed a joint-stock company called the King’s Men with his actors so that he could take a share in the company’s profits as well as earn a fee for each play he wrote.
10. Shakespeare has been credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with introducing almost 3,000 words to the English language. Estimations of his vocabulary range from 17,000 to 29,000 words! That’s at least double the number of words used by the average conversationalist!
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