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  • NYS Writers Institute

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

The Cobbe portrait (1610), The Chandos portrait (early 1600s) and the Droeshout portrait (1622): three of the most prominent of the reputed portraits of William Shakespeare.

We celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare on Sunday, April 23. Although we're not entirely certain he was born on the 23rd of April, we do know with certainty he was baptized on April 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon about 100 miles northwest of London, and baptisms were traditionally performed three days after a baby was born in Shakespeare's time.

Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds By William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me prov'd, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Fun Shakespearean Facts

Compiled by NYS Writers Institute interns Leticia Lekos and Grace Wright

  • Shakespeare actually died on his "birthday" in 1616 at the age of 52. It isn’t clear how he died. There are some rumors that he drank himself to death with fellow writers Ben Jonson and Michel Drayton, or was even murdered. The more likely possibility is that he was sick before his death, possibly dying from syphilis.

  • In his will, Shakespeare left his wife Anne Hathaway “my second best bed with the furniture”, leaving the bulk of his land to their two daughters. To this day there is still no mention of his best bed, which did not come up in the Will.

  • Shakespeare’s gravestone is engraved with his own handwritten epithet:

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,

To dig the dust enclosed here.

Blessed be the man that spares these stones,

And cursed be he that moves my bones.

  • Ironically, Shakespeare’s skull has been stolen from the tomb, possibly since the 18th Century

  • Shakespeare’s children were most likely illiterate, as were his parents.

  • Shakespeare was also an actor and often performed the plays that he wrote. There is evidence suggesting that he played a ghost in "Hamlet."

  • Right after the Bible, Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer, according to the Literature Encyclopedia.


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