Today marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. In fact, the actual birth date of William Shakespeare – English poet, playwright and cultural icon also known as The Bard – is unknown, although his baptism is recorded as taking place on 26th April 1564. His birthday is traditionally celebrated on St George’s Day – England’s National Day – the 23rd April. This date also marks the day on which Shakespeare died, in 1616, at the (relatively young) age of 52.

Shakespeare: Not for an age, but for all time wrote friend
and fellow writer Ben Jonson about The Bard
(Image courtesy of The Shakespeare Standard)

Hailed as the best writer of his time – quite possibly of all time – Shakespeare was prolific, penning no less than 37 plays and 154 sonnets, now literary classics and of the most widely read and quoted texts in literature. His plays still delight audiences around the world – both on the stage and the silver screen – and his love sonnets are still used by many a lovestruck man (or woman) to woo the object of their affection.

Five Fun Facts About Shakespeare

  1. He was a toy-boy – married to Renaissance cougar Anne Hathaway, 8 years his senior, and together they had 3 children
  2. He recognised that hard work, not just talent, maketh the man – before he made it big as a writer and entrepreneur, he tended to the horses of theatre patrons to earn a crust
  3. He had a good head for business, with a grasp on what stories would entertain the crowds and make them part with their money. In addition, he was a partner in a theatre company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (which performed all his plays) and held shares in The Globe Theatre, investments which made him rather wealthy
  4. Like Alfred Hitchcock centuries later, he had a penchant for cameo roles in some of his own productions
  5. He was a mover and a shaker, on personal terms with VIPs like Queen Elizabeth I.

Shakespeare is renowned for his acerbic wit, particularly withering insults. Next time you need a hard-hitting comeback, why not shut down your opponent with one of these:

  • Away, you three-inch fool!
  • A pox damn you, you muddy rascal!
  • More of your conversation would infect my brain.

Want more? Peruse the Grand Taxonomy of Shakespearean Insults below:

A Grand Taxonomy of Shakespearean Insults
by Charley-Chartwell.
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