When you hear the name “William Shakespeare”, it is normal to conjure up the image of a po-faced, bookish playwright—huddled around his paper and quill all day and night. Others imagine a wild, eccentric poet wandering about like a gypsy, singing ballads in the rain? So, which one is it?

“The Bard of Avon” is celebrated as the greatest writer and dramatist of all time — but he still remains an enigma to the world.

So, what do we really know about him, other than half-verified information uncovered from old books and documents?

It’s fascinating how little we know about a man whose works have inspired generations of actors, writers, and poets; appearing in both silver screens and school textbooks.  

To celebrate Shakespeare and his works, here is a list of quirky, jaw-dropping facts about “The Bard”:

  1. Shakespeare would never have qualified in a spelling bee: Known to misspell quite frequently, he had different name signatures — Shakespe, Shakesper, etc.— in different legal documents and wills. In reality, no one really knows how to spell his name correctly; not even Shakespeare himself!
  2. Shakespeare is the original Bruce Wayne: A famous, celebrity playwright in London, and a wealthy private businessman and property owner in his hometown of Stratford — very similar to Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne.  Shakespeare lived a double life throughout the 17th century!
  3. Shakespeare’s curse: Think twice before touching his grave, for he had put this epitaph on it to prevent possible eviction:

“Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.”

  1. Shakespeare’s lost bloodline: Shakespeare had three children in his controversial marriage with Anne Hathaway — who was eight years his senior, and three months pregnant with their first child, Susanna. Sadly, his children and grandchildren died, leaving him no descendants to continue his legacy.
  2. Shakespeare’s global popularity caused an ecological disaster in New York: In 1890, Eugene Scheiffelin, a Shakespeare fanatic, and zoologist released a massive flock of starlings into Central Park to fulfil his dream of seeing the birds in Shakespeare’s plays living in America. Unfortunately, the starlings started preying on indigenous species, instigating an ecological disaster in the USA.
  3. Shakespeare and his love for words: Shakespeare has introduced around 3000 words to the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The longest word created by this literary genius — honorificabilitudinitatibus — for the play Love’s Labor’s Lost, is defined by dictionaries all over the world as “invincible glorious honorableness”

A mysterious yet brilliant man that changed the literary course of an era still remains an enigma even in the 21st century, while his works are revered and his life immortalized in its pages.

 

-Madhuri Rajkumar

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