Shakespeare is one of the most famous writers in history!
This well-spoken playwright is still recognized by all generations, which is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Here we’ve assembled 50 of the best facts about Shakespeare to inspire you to appreciate his impressive works even more!
William Shakespeare was born sometime in April 1564. His exact birth date is unknown. He was baptized on April 26th, so historians believe he was born shortly before that date.
Shakespeare had seven siblings.
He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in the United Kingdom, where he also grew up.
Shakespeare is known as England’s national poet – as well as the “Bard of Avon.”
The total count of his surviving works consists of about 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two narrative poems, and other unclassified works.
Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into every major language.
His plays are performed more often than any other playwright.
When he was 18, he married a farmer’s daughter, Anne Hathaway. She was 8 years older than he was.
Their marriage was announced & performed quickly because Anne was already 3 months pregnant when they got married.
Together during their marriage, they had three children. Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith. Sadly, Hamnet died at just 11 years old.
Contrary to their father’s genius, Shakespeare’s children were illiterate.
Most of Shakespeare’s works were written between 1589 & 1613. The earlier of his plays were mostly comedies and histories and are considered some of the best works he created.
Between 1585 and 1592, there is no record of what Shakespeare was doing. Historians consider these “the lost years” of his life, as no one knows where he was.
Once 1592 came around, Shakespeare popped up again, emerging as an actor and playwright.
When Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, both genders in the scripts were played by men. During those times, it was customary for men to play the roles of women because women were not socially accepted as actors.
Queen Elizabeth I was a big fan of Shakespeare’s plays. She would often hire his company to perform at the royal court.
Plays performed at his theater, The Globe, featured unique special effects such as trap doors, actors lifted with wires, smoke, and fire.
One of the special effects included firing a cannon, which set fire to the roof. The Globe theater was burned to the ground.
A modern version of The Globe was reconstructed based on the original. It was located just a stone’s throw from where the original once stood.
Shakespeare influenced the English language more so than any other author in history due to the fact that he popularized and invented many words and phrases.
Among these terms include “fashionable,” “lackluster,” “in a pickle,” and “one fell swoop.”
To put it into perspective, the Oxford English Dictionary has credited Shakespeare with introducing almost 3,000 words to the English language. His vocabulary range was at least double that of an average conversationalist.
Nobody knows how his last name was spelled. It comes up in history spelled over 80 different ways, such as “Shappere” and “Shaxberd.” In his own signatures, he would write variations such as “Willm Shakp.”
The shortest play by Shakespeare is The Comedy of Errors, at 1,770 lines long. His longest play is Hamlet which is 4,042 lines long.
Unlike the majority of famous artists in his time, Shakespeare was actually quite wealthy. This was confirmed after his death; his will showed to have several large plots of land.
The longest word in one of Shakespeare’s works was in “Love’s Labor Lost.” A character says “honorificabilitudinitatibus,” which means “invincible glorious honorableness.”
Even though his works are still recognized as brilliant, Shakespeare never attended university.
Shakespeare was also an actor, and he would perform in many of his own plays as well as in works from other playwrights.
No one knows for sure how Shakespeare died, though it is possible it was from a typhoid outbreak.
When Shakespeare died, he only left his wife a bed in his will.
There are no direct descendants of Shakespeare alive today.
In the popular play Romeo and Juliet, the word “love” appears 150 times.
Only two of Shakespeare’s plays were written entirely in verse. These were: “Richard II” and “King John.” Most of his other plays feature prose for half of the text.
Shakespeare never edited his own writing. A fellow playwright Ben Jonson said, “Whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line.”
Between 1592 & 1594, all London playhouses were shut down to prevent crowded places from spreading the plague outbreak. Since there was no demand for plays, Shakespeare wrote poetry during this time.
There are 60 species of birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. In total, birds were referenced 600 times.
The word “Bardolatry” was created by George Bernard Shaw; it references the respect many Victorians had for anything Shakespeare.
Even though Shakespeare is typically known as an Elizabethan playwright, most of his plays were written during the Jacobean period.
A large number of Shakespeare’s plays were dramatized accounts of historical events. Additionally, he would write based on stories from classical writers like Plutarch and Holinshed.
His final play, The Two Noble Kinsmen, was written in 1613 when Shakespeare was 49 years old – just three years before he died.
At the time, Macbeth was unpopular due to its reference to witches, which created fear during the middle ages. There is still a long superstition in theater of saying the name “Macbeth” aloud.
None of Shakespeare’s original manuscripts exist because they were written quickly for stage performance.
On Shakespeare’s original grave marker, it portrayed him holding a bag of grain. Stratford citizens replaced the bag of grain with a quill in 1747.
The Romantic poet John Keats kept a sculpture of Shakespeare near his desk. His hope was that it would inspire his own creativity.
One of the most famous depictions of Shakespeare features the playwright with a gold hoop earring in his left ear. This was a creative and bohemian look in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
Within a month of signing his will, Shakespeare passed away – even though he described himself as being in “perfect health.”
When Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, the words “curst be he that moves my bones” was inscribed on his grave – to prevent grave robbers.
Many people are skeptical as to whether Shakespeare was truly the author of the plays attributed to him.
Aside from church records and legal documents, most aspects of Shakespeare’s life are circumstantial, and nothing is known for certain.
This means that nobody knows how Shakespeare’s career began or how he was able to rise to fame so quickly.
And that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed reading these 50 fascinating facts about Shakespeare as much as we enjoyed compiling them.
From his early comedies to his later tragedies and everything in between, Shakespeare’s impact on literature and language is immeasurable.
So let us continue to celebrate his legacy and the countless ways in which he has enriched our lives. Thanks for joining us on this journey through Shakespeare’s life and works!