Did You Know?
Focal Point: William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare has always been a great contributor of the history of theater, acting, writing, and even the evolution of our language! We thought he was pretty “Focal Point” worthy. So sit back, relax, read and enjoy! And hopefully you’ll learn some things you never knew before. Also, if we’ve piqued your interest, don’t hesitate to click on the links to learn even more!! Happy reading! Merry Learning! xoxo
William Shakespeare was an actor too!
Few people realise that apart from writing his numerous plays and sonnets, Shakespeare was also an actor who performed many of his own plays as well as those of other playwrights. There is evidence that he played the ghost in Hamlet and Adam in As You Like It.
William Shakespeare performed for royalty
During his life Shakespeare performed before Queen Elizabeth I and, later, before James I who was an enthusiastic patron of his work.
Shakespeare has been translated into 80 languages, including Klingon and Esperanto
If Shakespeare knew how far his work has traveled in the 400 years since his death, he would be amazed. His original audiences included people from all walks of life, from kings and queens to prostitutes and fish mongers, but they all had one thing in common: the English language. Shakespeare was writing in the Elizabethan ‘golden age’ of exploration, but his world was essentially limited to the confines of our island.
Like the English language itself, Shakespeare’s work has since broken free of its restraints to travel across the globe – and even beyond. In 2000, Star Trekfans produced a translation of Hamlet in Klingon, in an effort to restore Shakespeare to its ‘original’ language. The Prince of Denmark begins his most famous speech not with “to be or not to be”, but with “taH pagh taHbe”. Unsurprisingly, most people prefer the earthling version and the Klingon Hamlet is rarely, if ever, performed.
Shakespeare has also been translated into Esperanto, the artificial language based on the structure of major European tongues. Translations include Reĝo Lear, Rikardo Tria and La Komedio de Eraroj.
It should also be remembered that Shakespeare himself enjoyed languages and wrote a whole scene in French for the play Henry V.
Some fast facts about Shakespeare
- Born: Stratford-upon-Avon, 23 April 1564 (or thereabouts).
- Died: Stratford-upon-Avon, 23 April 1616.
- Parents: John and Mary Shakespeare.
- Brothers and sisters:
- Joan, born 1558, died before 1569.
- Margaret, born 1562, died 1563 (aged 5 months).
- William, born 1564, died 1616.
- Gilbert, born 1566, haberdasher, died 1612. (A haberdasher sells hats, clothes, thread, ribbons, etc.)
- Joan, born 1569, married William Hart, died 1646.
- Anne, born 1571, died 1579.
- Richard, born 1574, occupation unknown, died 1613.
- Edmund, born 1580, “player,” died 1607.
- Schooling: unknown. Records for the school at Stratford are lost; as the son of an Alderman, William would have gone to the parish school.
- Married: Anne Hathaway (26) when he was 18, in 1582.
- Children: Susannah, born in 1583; Hamnet and Judith (twins), born in 1585.
- First mention as playwright: the attack by Robert Greene in 1592.
- First document mentioning him as connected with the theater: an entry in the Declared Accounts of the Treasurer of the Royal Chamber, dated 15 March 1595.
- First published play:Henry VI, Part Two, which appeared in 1594.
- Total number of plays: 37 (see the Chronology).
- Poems: Sonnets, narrative poems.