William Shakespeare is the most celebrated wordsmith of all time – so The List Love is offering some amazing facts on the bard. Our goal is to provide us with some interesting trivia about the English poet, playwright and actor that you may not know. So, here are 10 William Shakespeare facts that will blow your socks off.
1. Shakespeare’s Final Residence
New Place served as William Shakespeare’s final residence, but it was later demolished by the very person who purchased the property in 1756, Reverend Francis Gastrell.
The homeowner quickly grew tired of tourists stopping by to visit Shakespeare’s former home, and so he attacked and destroyed a mulberry tree in the garden that was rumoured to have been planted by the bard himself. The townsfolk, infuriated by Gastrell’s actions, destroyed New Place’s windows. Soon after, Gastrell applied for local permission to extend the garden but his application was unsuccessful. To make matters worse, his tax was also increased.
To inflict his revenge, Gastrell demolished New Place in 1759, which outraged the town’s residents who forced him to leave town.
2. Shakespeare Souvenir
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third President of the United States of America, visited Shakespeare’s home in March 1786. Whilst there, the politicians, who were close friends, chipped off a bit of his chair as a souvenir. Adams later said it was: “according to the custom”.
3. Shakespeare Spelling
The spelling of William Shakespeare has altered over the course of history, and not one of his surviving 6 signatures of his name is spelt the way it is today.
4. Shakespeare’s Words and Phrases
Shakespeare is believed to have introduced 3,000 words and phrases to the English language, which are still in use to this very day. That’s right kids, good ol’ Bill is responsible for the word ‘swagger’!
Not all of Shakespeare’s words and phrases stuck, though. Here are some that didn’t quite catch on:
• quatch (plump)
• kickie-wickie (an affectionate term for a wife)
• Cockled (living in a shell)
• Boggler (someone who hesitates)
• Foxship (address to a cunning person – i.e. “your foxship”)
• Near legged (knock-kneed)
• Swoltery (hot and sticky)
• Wappened (corrupt)
• Virgined (held securely)
Shakespeare started writing plays during the outbreak of the plague, during the period of 1592 to 1594, as there was no demand for his plays because people avoided crowds.
6. The Original Manuscripts
Most of the original Shakespeare manuscripts don’t exist, as he often wrote them rather hastily on stage. He was more concerned about bringing a play to the stage than having them printed and published.
7. First Folio
Shakespeare died in 1616, but the first volume of his plays, First Folio, was not published until seven years after his death. His associates, Henry Condell and John Heminges, ensured his words became part of literary history, as the folio includes 26 of 28 plays that are attributed to the bard.
William Shakespeare is often called an Elizabethan playwright, despite the large majority of his greatest works were produced after James I took the throne. So he should more accurately be known as a Jacobean playwright. Want to know more misconceptions about William Shakespeare? Click here.
9. Shakespeare’s Sonnets
It is believed that Thomas Thorpe published a quarto volume of Shakespeare’s sonnets without the writer’s consent on 20th May, 1609. The volume contained 154 sonnets, but the order they were written and who they were addressed to is unknown.
While sonnets are often known to be love poems, Shakespeare was often a little homoerotic, bitter and a tad self-loathing – and his writing has led many to believe that Shakespeare was either bisexual or homosexual.
10. Shakespeare’s Will
Shakespeare revised his will in March 1616, the year of his death. His signature was shaky, suggesting he may not have been well.