In our last article on William Shakespeare facts we learned about his birth date and death date. We learned about his family and his work life and why many critics call him a fraud. That’s pretty much all the organized information about Shakespeare. What’s left now is a set of random facts about this that we are going to share here. So, let’s get started.
Shakespeare Facts: 1-5
1. “Oxford Dictionary of Quotations” says that of all of the most quotable quotations that are ever spoken or written in English, 1/10th was composed by Shakespeare.
2. Shakespeare is actually famous as Elizabethan playwright. However in reality, he produced most of his greatest works only after James I took the throne. So to speak more accurately, he was a Jacobean playwright.
3. The ‘Theatre’ was leased by Lord Chamberlain’s Men – the company owned by Shakespeare – by 1597. When it was time to renew the lease, the owner of ‘Theatre’ was very reluctant to do so. It turned out that the employees of ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Men’ and nearly another dozen workers simply tore down ‘Theatre’. A new theater was built but across Thames. The new theater was named as ‘New Globe’.
4. The land on which the New Globe was standing was leased to Richard Burbage, Cuthbert Burbage, Shakespeare and 4 more men from the troupe by 1599. The lease was for 31 years. Share of Shakespeare varied between 1/14th to 1/10th over the years.
5. In 1613, June 29, New Globe was hosting Shakespeare’s play called Henry VIII. That’s when a canon was fired during the performance. The result of that firing was that the whole theater came burning down.
Shakespeare Facts: 6-10
6. In 1603, King James I chose Shakespeare’s company as his official player. That’s when the company of Shakespeare was renamed and the new name give was: “The King’s Men”.
7. Blackfrair’s Theatre was the name given to the new theater that The King’s Men opened in 1608. The indoors of the theater became the template for all future theaters that ever opened.
8. Shakespeare might have been a bisexual. This information comes from the textual evidences derived from his sonnets and a few of his plays.
9. Talking of Sonnets, Shakespeare actually composed 154 sonnets in his life time.
10. There are no records of the time when these sonnets were composed by Shakespeare. He didn’t even mention to whom those were addressed. And, no one knows whether the current order of assembling them is right or wrong.
Shakespeare Facts: 11-15
11. In case you don’t know, Sonnets are typically supposed to be love poems. Shakespearean sonnets are far from being that. Many of them are homoerotic and almost all of them are bitter and self-loathing.
12. Shakespeare actually refers to a beautiful ‘Young Man’ in his sonnets. That man is the lover. Now, who was that guy? Some say that the Young Man was Baron of Titchfield and Earl of Southampton. His name was Henry Wriothesley. It is this man to whom Shakespeare actually dedicated his works – The Rape of Lucrece, and Venus and Adonis.
13. The sonnets composed by Shakespeare were published in a quarto volume in 1609 on May 20. The person who published them was Thomas Thorpe. Thorpe published them without the permission of Shakespeare.
14. Shakespeare was different from the other playwrights and poets of his time. He usually based most of his works on the works of others (plays written by others), on earlier poems and history.
15. At the time when Shakespeare lived, theaters didn’t have sceneries and curtains. The entire setting was actually described by the playwrights with the performance text.
Shakespeare Facts: 16-20
16. Works of Shakespeare have first ever recordings of exactly 2,035 words of English. A few of those words are frugal, assassination, barefaced, excellent, critical and countless.
17. Shakespearean work also contains some of today’s most commonly used phrases. He used those phrases for the first time in his works. Some examples will be – ‘with bated breath’, ‘be cruel to be kind’, ‘flesh and blood’, ‘tower of strength’, ‘foul play’, ‘vanish into thin air’ etc.
18. Shakespeare was buried near Holy Trinity Church’s altar located at Stratford-upon-Avon. It is the same place where he was baptized. He actually wrote a curse on his tombstone which reads:
Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forebeare
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
Well, the curse actually worked. His remains are still intact even to this day!
19. It is estimated that the vocabulary range of Shakespeare was between 17,000 and 29,000 words.
20. Some of the most memorable insults ever, in history of mankind, has also been provided by Shakespeare. For example: “Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!”; “You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!”; “Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous.”.
Shakespeare Facts: 21-25
21. The first publishing of the works of Shakespeare was ‘First Folio’. It was published back in 1623.
22. The works of Shakespeare draw 600 references to various bird types. One of those birds mentioned in his works was Starling – a bird native to western Asia and Europe. The bird can do mimicry and is a lustrous songbird.
23. Eugene Schiffelin – American “bardolator” came up with a unique idea of getting every single bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s work but not present in USA. So he ended up bringing 120 starlings (2 flocks, each containing 60). He released them in Central Park of New York in 1890.
24. That bird is known for its adaptation skills and now (over 120 years later) it has become so invasive that many of the native bird species of America have come to near extinction.
25. At the time when Shakespeare lived, the life expectancy was between 30 years and 40 years. He lived for an impressive 52 years.
Fun Fact about Shakespeare:
- Shakespeare gave only a bed to his wife through his will.