10 Things You Might Not Know About William Shakespeare

1. Although we know that William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26th, 1564, his exact date of birth is unknown. Most historians commonly celebrate it as April 23rd because this also happens to be the date of his death in 1616.

2. When he was 18, Shakespeare married the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, who was already pregnant with their daughter Susanna—a considerable scandal at the time!

3. The first “official” theater to host a Shakespeare production (King Henry VI, Part 1) was an establishment called The Rose, which doubled both as a theater and a brothel.

4. No one knows why Shakespeare disappeared during his “lost years” exactly, but a common theory for many years was that he was on the run for poaching deer from Sir Thomas Lucy, an aggressive anti-Catholic enforcer with whom Shakespeare supposedly had bad blood.

5. To prevent his plays from being performed by other companies, Shakespeare never released their scripts to the public, and it wasn’t until the release of the First Folio that there was an “official” publication of his works. Nevertheless, his plays were often written down and shared without his consent—a sort of 17th century equivalent of modern-day internet piracy!

6. There is evidence to suggest that Shakespeare was also an actor as well as being a playwright and according to the First Folio he even acted in a few of his own plays. It is not known, however, which roles he might have played or how his performance was received.

7. Shakespeare’s family had very close connections to the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, including Guy Fawkes: it was only by some quick royalist flattery in the form of Macbeth that Shakespeare was able to appease King James and clear suspicion from his own name.

8. In 1593-95, playhouses were closed because it was believed that crowded locations would spread the already-rampaging plague, forcing Shakespeare to turn to writing poetry. Shakespeare himself lost three sisters to the plague; his son Hamnet died of unknown causes at the age of eleven, and may very likely have fallen prey to the plague as well.

9. Shakespeare is the inventor of over 1700 words, ranging from “critic” and “ode” to “obsequiously” and “skim milk”!

10. There is a common theatrical superstition that holds that speaking the name “Macbeth” in or near a theater will cause disaster, leading many to refer to Macbeth by its nickname “The Scottish Play.”

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