Even More Shakespeare Facts!

But my God, how beautiful Shakespeare is, who else is as mysterious as he is; his language and method are like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy.
– Vincent van Gogh

welcome-shakespeare-quiz-and-activitiesAs my  Shakespeare Month is drawing to a close it’s time for the final installment of Shakespeare Fun Facts. All my sources are included below and there are still so many more I didn’t include! If you look hard enough there is so much to discover.

1. According to Shakespeare professor Louis Marder, “Shakespeare was so facile in employing words that he was able to use over 7,000 of them – more than occur in the whole King James Version of the Bible – only once and never again.”

2. Some scholars have maintained that Shakespeare did not write the plays attributed to him, with at least fifty writers having been suggested as the “real” author. However, the evidence for Shakespeare’s having written the plays is very strong.

3. The American President Abraham Lincoln was a great lover of Shakespeare’s plays and frequently recited from them to his friends. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a famous Shakespearean actor.

4. ‘William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of ‘I am a weakish speller’.

5. The first ever amateur performance of a Shakespeare play took place in 1623. A handwritten manuscript survives of an adaptation of the two parts of Henry IV, which was performed by a household in Pluckley in Kent. Sir Edward Dering, the amateur theatre enthusiast who commissioned it was the first person we know of to buy a First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays when it hit the bookstalls in 1623.

6. In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain describes how two swindlers posing as English actors on their way down the Mississippi stage a night of Shakespeare in the court house of a one-horse town in Arkansas. When the audience drift away before the end, one of them declares: “Arkansas lunkheads couldn’t come up to Shakespeare! “

7. Shakespeare followed the Gold Rush west in the 1840s. There are stories of pioneer companies of actors playing among the ore-rich gulches, to mining camps full of desperados and sharpers of all nations.

8. Fellow playwright Ben Jonson called Shakespeare ‘Our Star of Poets’: “Take him and cut him out in little stars/And he will make the face of heaven so fine,/ That all the world will be in love with night”. And though there are satellites named after Shakespeare characters, there is no star named after Shakespeare himself.

9. The most popular name from a Shakespeare play used today is Olivia. He was also the first to use this spelling.

10. Shakespeare took phrases from other languages. For instance, ‘fat paunches make lean pates’ from Love’s Labour’s Lost was originally a Greek and Latin proverb by St Jerome.

11. The word ‘love’ appears 2,191 times in the complete works

12. Legend has it that at the tender age of eleven, William watched the pageantry associated with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth Castle near Stratford and later recreated this scene many times in his plays.

13. Unlike most famous artists of his time, the Bard did not die in poverty. When he died, his will contained several large holdings of land.

14. Shakespeare has been credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with introducing almost 3,000 words to the English language.

Sources

Absolute Shakespeare

No Sweat Shakespeare

The Telegraph

British Council

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