Remembering Shakespeare

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Of all the playwrights in the history of theater, none have gained as much recognition as the immortal Bard. In honor of his 450th birthday anniversary, here are a few facts about William Shakespeare that you may not know.

  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations states that Shakespeare created nearly one tenth of the most quotable quotations of the English language.
  • His plays contain the first recorded use of 2,035 English words, such as critical, frugal, excellent, barefaced, assassination, and countless.
  • Additionally, many commonly used expressions were first recorded in his plays, including one fell swoop, vanish into thin air, play fast and loose, be in a pickle, foul play, tower of strength, flesh and blood, be cruel to be kind, and with bated breath.
  • Suicide occurs (an unlucky) thirteen times in his plays.
  • Two of Shakespeare’s plays, “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing”, have been translated into Klingon. The Klingon Language Institute plans to translate more in the future.
  • 25 of Uranus’ 27 satellite moons are named after Shakespearean characters.
  • The original Globe Theatre burnt down to the ground in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII, when a cannon set light to the thatched roof.
  • Shakespeare’s father had several different jobs during his lifetime, such as selling malt, corn, and leather products. At one point, he was even paid to drink beer, as an official ale taster.
  • Shakespeare married an older woman – Anne Hathaway who was eight years his senior – who was three months pregnant by him.
  • Many scholars believe that he wore a gold hoop earring.
  • Shakespeare’s tombstone contains a curse to scare off would-be grave robbers. It says “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbeare, / To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.” 
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