There are quite a few interesting facts about William Sheakespeare and his works. Some make a lot of sense and some are just plain outrageous…like this first one.
Among the 80 languages Shakespeare’s works have been translated into, the most obscure must be the constructed language of Star Trek’s Klingon. Hamlet and Much Ado about Nothing have both been translated as part of the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project by the Klingon Language Institute.
William Shakespeare would have been considered a very controversial figure when he married a much older woman who was pregnant with their child. Anne Hathaway was 26 years old when William married her at the age of 18. She duly gave birth to Susannah six months after the wedding. (read more about Shakespeare’s family).
Shakespeare placed a curse on his grave in Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon in the form of a poem etched on his tombstone. Though this undoubtedly helped his bones to remain untouched since his death, in 1747 Stratford citizens actually replaced the original bag of grain grave marker with a quill. The poem Shakespeare wrote for his gravestone reads
Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
There are more than 80 variations recorded for the spelling of Shakespeare’s name. In the few original signatures that have survived, Shakespeare spelled his name “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” “Wm Shakspe,” “William Shakspere,” ”Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare”. There are no records of him ever having spelled it “William Shakespeare”, as we know him today.
The moons of Uranus were originally named in 1852 after magical spirits from English literature. The International Astronomy Union subsequently developed the convention to name all further moons of Uranus (of which there are 27) after characters in Shakespeare’s plays or Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock.
No portrait of Shakespeare was every painted while he was alive.
Almost four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death there are 146 million pages referring to him on Google. There are 132 million for God, 2.7 million for Elvis Presley, and coming up on Shakespeare’s heels, George W Bush with 14.7 million.
Shakespeare died a rich man. He made several gifts to various people but left his property to his daughter, Susanna. The only mention of his wife in Shakespeare’s own will is: “I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture”. The “furniture” was the bedclothes for the bed.
Shakespeare is always referred to as an Elizabethan playwright, but as most of his most popular plays were written after Elizabeth’s death he was actually more of a Jacobean writer. His later plays also show the distinct characteristics of Jacobean drama.
Although Shakespeare is almost universally considered as one of the finest writers in the English language, his contemporaries were not always as impressed. The first recorded reference to Shakespeare, written by theatre critic Robert Greene in 1592, was as an “upstart crow, beautified with our feathers”.