Shakespeare facts (you probably didn’t know)
To add to our mini Shakespeare series this week, here are some unusual and not well-known Shakespeare facts that may surprise you. Difficult vocabulary is explained below the text.
Shakespeare Facts….you probably didn’t know
Shakespeare’s romantic lines were for men
Some of Shakespeare’s famous lines from his poetry are considered the most romantic ever written. Maybe you’ve heard this before, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and temperate” – but did you know that it was written about two men? In fact, 126 of Shakespeare’s sonnets are based on love between male friends. This doesn’t mean that Shakespeare was gay. In his day, homoeroticism was considered a normal part of male friendship.
Shakespeare mysteriously disappeared
From 1585 to 1592, there is absolutely no historical record of Shakespeare. After the record of the birth of his twins’ baptism in 1585, he has 7 lost years until his name is mentioned again in a theatre review in 1592, where a critic called him an ‘upstart‘. What did he do in these seven years? Historians have suggested that he studied law, travelled across Europe, acted or worked as a schoolteacher.
Shakespeare was not a great husband
Even though he ‘did the right thing’ and married his wife when she was 3 months pregnant, Shakespeare couldn’t be considered to be a good husband in modern day standards. After 3 years of marriage, he left his wife and children to move to London alone. There are lots of written references implying that he had numerous affairs in London. In his will, he only left his wife his ‘second-best’ bed.
Shakespeare was very old
Shakespeare died in 1616 when he was 52 – which is not too bad considering that the average life-expectancy of the time was between 30 – 40 years.
Shakespeare’s grave is cursed
Shakespeare is buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon Avon. He is thought to have written his own epitaph which told of a curse if the body was removed. At the time, it was common for grave robbers to steal everything. This clever trick worked as Shakespeare’s grave remains undisturbed to this day. His tombstone reads:
Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forebeare
To digg the dust enclosed here;
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.
Shakespeare is an internet star
There are around 152 Million results for Shakespeare in Google. There are only 53 Million for J K Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series). However, Justin Bieber has 682 Million internet pages referring to him!
Difficult Vocabulary Explained
- producing sexual desire in a person of the same sex
- two children born at the same birth
- a religious ceremony where water is sprinkled on the forehead and the person, usually a baby, is given their name
- a person who has quickly risen to a high position and behaves arrogantly
- an idea or a normal model of behaviour
- a lot, many
- a person who is married that has a sexual relationship with another person
- to make a supernatural power cause harm or punishment on somebody
- grave robbers
- to uncover a tomb to steal the valuable things or body inside
You may also like our other Shakespeare posts from this week...
1. Shakespeare, my hero – Podcast conversation with 2 SGI teachers
2. WIN free English lessons at SGI London in our September Shakespeare Competition