Facts about Shakespeare can sometimes be hard to find! To help you sort the fact from the speculation, we’ve put together a Shakespeare “crib sheet” … a single reference page packed with facts – and only facts – about Shakespeare.
The links are there to help you delve deeper into the subject.
Key Facts About Shakespeare
- William Shakespeare was born on 23rd April, 1564
- He died on 23rd April 1616
- The dates above are approximate because there is no record of neither his birth nor death. We only have records of his baptism and burial.
- If we accept the dates, Shakespeare was born and died on the same day – in fact Shakespeare’s death occurred on his 52nd birthday!
Facts About Shakespeare’s Life
- Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, but later moved to London for work
- Shakespeare had three children with his wife, Anne Hathaway
- When he left for London, Shakespeare left his family behind in Stratford. He did, however, retire back to Stratford at the end of his career
- There is evidence that Shakespeare was a “secret” Catholic
- By the end of his life, Shakespeare was a wealthy gentleman and had a coat of arms. His final residence was New Place, the largest house in Stratford-upon-Avon
- Shakespeare was buried inside Holy Trinity Church in Stratford
- Shakespeare’s grave has a curse engraved upon it
- Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrated worldwide every year. The main festival is in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saint George’s Day
Facts About Shakespeare’s Time
- Shakespeare was not a “one-off genius”, as many people would have you believe. Rather he was a product of his time
- Shakespeare grew up during the renaissance
- Queen Elizabeth I ruled for much of Shakespeare’s life and she would sometimes come and watch his plays
Facts About Shakespeare’s Plays
- Shakespeare wrote 38 plays
- Shakespeare’s plays are split into three genres: tragedy, comedy and history
- Hamlet is often regarded as the Bard’s best play
- Romeo and Juliet is often regarded as the Bard’s most famous play
- Shakespeare may have co-authored many of his plays
Facts About Shakespeare’s Sonnets
- Shakespeare wrote 157 sonnets
- The sonnets are split into sections. The first follows the Fair Youth and the second follows the so-called Dark Lady
- It likely that the sonnets were never intended for publication
- Sonnet 18 is often regarded as Shakespeare’s most famous sonnet
- Shakespeare’s sonnets are written in a strict poetic meter called Iambic Pentameter and have 14 lines each.
Facts About Shakespeare’s Theatre
- The theatre experience in Shakespeare’s time was very different to today – crowds would eat and talk through the production and plays would be performed in the open air
- The Globe Theatre was made from the materials of a stolen theatre that Shakespeare’s theatre company dismantled at midnight and floated across the Thames River
- Shakespeare described the Globe Theatre as the “Wooden O” because of its shape
- The original Globe Theatre was demolished to make way for tenements in 1644 when it fell out of use
- The building that currently stands in London is a replica built from traditional materials and techniques. It is not on the original site, but very close to it!
- Today, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is the World’s leading producer of Shakespeare and is headquartered in the Bard’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon