Friday 2 December 2016

Shakespeare400: 10 astounding facts about Shakespeare you probably didn't know

Graham Clifford

Published 22/04/2016 | 15:11

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
English playwright and poet William Shakespeare
A death mask thought to be that of English dramatist William Shakespeare (1566 - 1616). Found by Dr Ludwig Becker in Mainz in 1849, the mask was linked to Shakespeare because of its 1616 date and its supposed facial resemblance to the writer. A rival theory, however, maintains that the mask is more likely to be that of English poet Ben Johnson

10 things you probably didn't know about the bard...

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1 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was 18. She was 26 and three months pregnant when they married. Their first child Susanna was born six months after the wedding.

2 One of Shakespeare's relatives on his mother's side, William Arden, was imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I (right).

3 Although Catholicism was outlawed in England under the regimes of his patrons Elizabeth I and James VI, it is widely believed that Shakespeare was a secret Papist.

4 Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway had three children - a son, Hamnet and two daughters, Susanna and Judith. His only granddaughter Elizabeth died childless in 1670 so The Bard has no descendants.

5 Shakespeare was an astute businessman with a large property portfolio. He formed a joint-stock company with his actors meaning he took a share in the company's profits as well as earning a writing fee.

6 The Bard has been credited with introducing some 3,000 words into the English language.

7 Shakespeare was not always appreciated in his lifetime. The first reference to him, written by the critic and rival Robert Greene in 1592, called him "an upstart crow".

8 We know that at least two Shakespeare plays are lost and probably gone forever. They are Love Labour's Won and Cardinio. There are probably more missing.

9 Two of Shakespeare's plays - Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing - have been translated into Klingon.

10 An outbreak of plague meant that London's theatres were closed for two years from 1592. With no plays to write, Shakespeare turned to poetry.

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