Upon Remembering Shakespeare

Posted on April 24, 2013


William Shakespeare, artist unknown. From the National Portrait Gallery, London.

William Shakespeare, artist unknown. From the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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This week is the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and death, although the exact date of Shakespeare’s birth still remains unknown. So Happy Birthday, Shakespeare, perhaps?

We do, however, know for a fact that the great poet, playwright and all round writer died on April 23 1616 at the grand old age of 52.

Shakespeare’s influence

Shakespeare contributed approximately 38 plays and 154 sonnets over his lifetime. The writer, who was also an actor and part owner of a playing company during his lifetime, had an extremely successful career, and is regarded widely as the most influential writer in English Language history.

Shakespeare’s work is still taught in schools. If you think back to your school days, you were probably taught at some point with one of Shakespeare’s plays or a poems. Personally, I have grown up with this writer’s work and influence.

In drama class we had to perform speeches from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and in English Literature I can remember learning Hamlet, Macbeth and Twelfth Night to name a few. Whether you enjoyed learning Shakespeare or never want to look at one of his plays again, for many he is the most famous and easily recalled writer.

For some people Shakespeare is associated with pain. The pain of being forced to learn it at school when most would rather be doing anything else! This is a shame because inevitably some people are turned off from reading Shakespeare later in life. Nonetheless, he is still without doubt the most widely recognised writer, during our time at school and afterwards. It’s no wonder we still celebrate Shakespeare 400 years after his death.

We know very little of this writer’s life; after all, we don’t even known when his exact birth date was. Questions still remain over what we know about his appearance, religious beliefs and even if works attributed to him were written by others. Regardless of mystery and speculation surrounding this English writer, we still enjoy interpreting his sonnets and watching his plays that are performed worldwide. Rather than harm his reputation, I think the mystery has created a great intrigue into Shakespeare’s life.

This week an announcement came that the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an extension of Shakespeare’s Globe, will open in January 2014.

The indoor Jacobean style playhouse was first envisioned by actor and director Sam Wanamaker in 1949. When the complex is built it will seat 340 and will be lit almost entirely by candles. Shakespeare’s Globe, much like his legacy, is still going strong and will be for years to come.

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