7 things you may not know about Shakespeare

shakes_bday_2009

Today we celebrate William Shakespeare’s 451 birthday. If you want to be morbid you could also say we are celebrating his death, as he died on April 23, 1616.

Scholars named April 23, 1564 as his birthday based on his baptismal register, April 26, 1564. It was traditional to baptize a child three days after birth.

To celebrate our beloved playwright’s birthday, I’m giving you a gift. Your favorite gift dear Readers. It’s list time!

7 Things you may not know about Shakespeare

We probably don’t spell Shakespeare’s name correctly—but, then again, neither did he
Sources from William Shakespeare’s lifetime spell his last name in more than 80 different ways, ranging from “Shappere” to “Shaxberd.

Shakespeare’s epitaph wards off would-be grave robbers with a curse

“To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.” It must have worked. Shakespeare’s remains have yet to be disturbed.

Google must love him

There are 157 million pages referring to him. God has only 132 million.

These seats better be comfortable.

The longest play in the Shakespeare cannon is Hamlet. With no cuts to the play, it takes over four hours to perform. His shortest play, The Comedy of Errors, takes a third of that time.

Even NASA loves Shakespeare

While I cannot find the original source, or who started the trend, all of Uranus’ moon are named after Shakespeare’s characters (except two that are named after characters in Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock). Shakespeare’s characters are:

  • Ophelia,
  • Bianca,
  • Cressida,
  • Desdemona,
  • Juliet,
  • Portia,
  • Rosalind,
  • Cupid,
  • Belinda,
  • Perdita,
  • Puck,
  • Mab,
  • Miranda,
  • Ariel,
  • Umbriel,
  • Titania,
  • Oberon,
  • Francisco,
  • Caliban,
  • Stephano,
  • Trinculo,
  • Sycorax,
  • Margaret,
  • Prospero,
  • Setebos,
  • Ferdinand.

Words, words words

Shakespeare invented 1700 words. Shakespeare has been credited for inventing single words that normally would have taken several to mean the same thing. I won’t list them all, but here is a partial list of words we use today:

  • auspicious
  • baseless
  • bloody
  • castigate
  • control (noun)
  • countless
  • courtship
  • critic
  • critical
  • dishearten
  • dislocate
  • dwindle
  • eventful
  • exposure
  • fitful
  • frugal
  • generous
  • gloomy
  • gnarled
  • hurry
  • impartial
  • lapse
  • laughable
  • misplaced
  • monumental
  • obscene

Now here is a reason to learn Klingon

Of all of the languages that Shakespeare’s work has been translated to, Klingon is my favorite. Both Hamlet and Much ado about nothing have been translated as part of the “Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project”. Who said aliens don’t appreciate culture? Don’t believe me? See for yourself. I give you, “To be or not to be” in Klingon.

Enjoy!

If you liked this list, search through my older posts. You will find lists of novel titles inspired by Shakespeare as well as operas and classical music pieces. I’ve written extensively on Shakespeare so be prepared to spend hours on all things Shakespeare. Be fair warned, Zombies show up in one of the posts.

Oh and don’t forget to visit Playing with Plays to cast you vote for favorite insult.

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

3 thoughts on “7 things you may not know about Shakespeare”

  1. The naming of Uranus’s moons is due to the son of the planet’s discoverer, William Herschel (1738-1822). John Herschel (1792-1871) not only named the moons, but completed the survey of the skies begun by his father and his aunt, Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), by extending it to the Southern Hemisphere. You might remember from reading (and reviewing) the recent book on the moon hoax that Richard Locke claimed his newspaper stories were based on John Herschel’s observations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian, thanks for clearing that up! Believe it or not, I could not find any article that talked about when they were named, just who discovered them. I did not want to assume the person who discovered the moon would be the one to name it. So many different people discovered the various moons, one has to assume there would have been a rule about naming them. This was what I wanted to find, but so far am coming up empty handed.

    Like

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