We all know the most famous playwright in history (though, thanks to high-school English assignments, we may not always love him): the great Bard himself, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare lived, and wrote, during some of the most turbulent times in British history. Class riots, plagues, religious and political tension—you name it, it was probably happening. Exciting history aside, there’s not much a lot of us actually know about the Bard, beyond the tragic nature of his plays, so read on for 5 interesting facts about William Shakespeare!
1. Nobody knows when he was born
There’s actually no records available that can give us the exact date of Shakespeare’s birth, however, there’s another method which historians have used in order to set a timeline for the great writer’s life. Records exist of Shakespeare’s christening, which happened April of 1564. In those days it was traditional to get christened a few days after birth, hence we assume that he was born sometime in April 1564!
2. Shakespeare has been translated into 80 languages
Shakespeare’s work has come a long way since the days when he penned it in Early Modern English, and today people from all over the world and from many different walks of life read his work. But the Bard’s work hasn’t just traversed the globe, it’s even gone into space (sort of). Star Trek fans have translated Shakespeare’s Hamlet into Klingon, a version which may not have as much widespread popularity as other languages, but hey at least it’s interesting!
3. There are no direct descendants alive today
Despite having children, the Bard’s bloodline pretty much died out with his grandchildren and there are actually no direct descendants of Shakespeare alive today. However, some people believe there may be some indirect descendants, namely through Shakespeare’s sister, Joan
4. Shakespeare’s father was an ale taster
John Shakespeare was something of a jack of all trades character in his younger years, and when he first arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon he worked in various industries including selling leather, wool, and other goods. But his most interesting job was probably that of ale taster. This meant he was responsible for inspecting (and tasting) malt liquors.
5. Most of Shakespeare’s family was illiterate
It might be hard to believe considering the Bard’s ability to twist and mold the English language, but it is said that his parents, John and Mary, never learned to read or write. This would have been common during those times, but William was lucky enough to be able to attend a local grammar school in Stratford where he mastered reading and writing. And so, one of the greatest writers was born!
Which is your favorite Shakespeare play? Why?