By Roanne Ward
Inside the Holy Trinity Parish, in the quaint English town of Stratford-upon-Avon, lies a very important book. Probably one of England’s most visited churches; the parish contains the register recording Shakespeare’s baptism, the only written record indicating his birth.
The entry, in Latin, reads: “Guiliamus filius Johannes Shakspere” with the date 26 April 1564.
At the time, it was common to baptize children a few days after birth, so it has long been assumed that April 23, 1564 was his birthday. However, his death on the exact same day some 52 years later is an all too perfect symmetry; a fact that more closely resembles his fiction. The truth is, we’ll never really know his exact birth date. This is just one of the many mysteries surrounding the Bard’s curious life.
Here are some more fascinating facts:
Shakespeare was a survivor – not the American reality show or Destiny’s Child kind, mind you, but a true survivor. Stratford was riddled with plague in the 16th century; only one of his siblings lived longer than him and four of them died before the age of 30. Living to the grand old age of 52 was quite an accomplishment – one of his many!
Despite being one of the most influential people in literary history, Shakespeare never went to university. Instead, at the young age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway (who was eight years his senior) and had the first of his three children, leaving him no time for academia.
449 years after his birth, Shakespeare is an online celebrity. If you Google ‘Shakespeare’ you’ll get 129 million results; that’s 50 million more than Elvis, 87 million more than George Clooney and 95 million more than J.K. Rowling!
Next year will mark Shakespeare’s 450th birthday and Bard on the Beach’s 25th anniversary: a double reason to celebrate! People all over the world from Stratford, UK to Stratford, Ontario celebrate Shakespeare’s ‘birthday’ with parades, plays, and poetry-slams. This year at Bard we celebrated by having the first day of Hamlet rehearsals with award-winning director Kim Collier giving us an exciting sneak peek at what’s coming in just seven weeks!
What are you doing to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday? Writing an original sonnet? Eating cake and drinking ale? Comparing your love to a summer’s day? Send us a picture or a tweet!
Happy Birthday Bill!