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Shakespeare's Day 23rd April

Shakespeare's Day 23rd April Shakespeare's Day

Here is Will and Guy's take on this day dedicated to England's most famous bard and writer.

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William Shakespeare's Day 23rd April

Had you realised that no biography was written of Shakespeare during his life. Hence, today, little can be factually supported of what we believe to be the events of the life of William Shakespeare, and much debate continues.

A Brief History

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, in a house in Henley Street. Shakespeare's Day Humour

This house is preserved intact.

His mother, Mary Arden, was one of the daughters of Robert Arden, a yeoman farmer of Wilmcote: his father, John Shakespeare, was a glover and wool dealer of good standing who held the office of Bailiff of the Borough in 1568.

From the age of seven to about 14, he attended Stratford Grammar School receiving a well rounded education.

At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who was seven years his senior and three months pregnant. Her family owned a farm one mile west of Stratford in Shottery.

We surmise that he did not have a particularly happy marriage because he moved alone to London to become an actor. At various times during his life we know that he returned home on visits to his wife and children.

He then became actor-manager and part-owner in the Blackfriars and afterwards the Globe Theatres.

Apparently Shakespeare was a first-rate actor, but it is as a writer of plays that he has achieved lasting world-wide fame. His plays are thought to be the finest ever written in any language.  His 38 plays vary in type; historical romances, light, fantastic comedies, some are tragedies, all including the comical and the farcical. He was a shrewd business man, amassing quite a fortune in his time. He returned to Stratford for his later years where he died at the age of 52 and now lies at rest in his special grave at Holy Trinity Church.

How to Celebrate the Shakespeare's DayShakespeare's Day Humour

Special pageants are held at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, where Shakespeare was born and where thousands of tourists go each year to see his plays performed.

The bells of Holy Trinity Church ring out and the Mayor of Stratford leads a procession there to lay flowers on Shakespeare's grave. The procession includes bands, civic dignitaries, costumed actors and actresses, Morris dancers, and the staff and pupils of some local schools.

 In some schools, regular lessons are set aside for students to learn about the great playwright and poet, and his sonnets, narrative poems and plays.

 Enthusiasts and fans, including the British Shakespeare Company, have campaigned for Parliament in the United Kingdom to officially recognize national Shakespeare Day.

The Theatre in Shakespeare's DayShakespeare's Day 23rd April

Going to the theatre in Shakespeare's day was a completely different experience than it is today.

The Globe was typical of those theatres, with a majority of the audience standing in the open air in front of the stage. If it rained, most of the audience would get wet.

They were not a quiet bunch but a riotous crowd who could purchase food and drink from strolling vendors during the course of the performance.

If the performance failed to please, they would talk, jeer, catcall or hiss.

For twice the price of admission the middle class could sit in seats with a roof over their head in curved tiers around the inside of the building.

The very important or rich could sit in a position directly above the stage or even on stools on stage.

Famous Shakespearean Quotes From "Hamlet"Shakespeare's Day Humour

  • To be, or not to be: that is the question. - Hamlet (Act III, Scene I).
  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. - Hamlet (Act I, Scene III).
  • This above all: to thine own self be true. - Hamlet (Act I, Scene III).
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. - (Act III, Scene II).
  • But, for my own part, it was Greek to me. - (Act I, Scene II).
  • The course of true love never did run smooth". - (Act I, Scene I).

Shakespeare's Legacy

His prolific works include 38 plays and 154 sonnets, in which he introduced over 1700 words to the English language.

Many common English expressions: bated breath, foul play, naked truth, are derived from his tragic and comic works.

With such a pervasive influence on language, literature and culture, is it any wonder that there is lobbying in England for an official National Shakespeare Day?

How to Talk Like Shakespeare

A Comedic Look at Language in Shakespeare's Time  Try these on your friends and work colleagues on 23rd April

  1. Instead of you, say thou or thee and instead of y'all,say ye.
  2. Rhymed couplets are all the rage. [Two successive lines of verse of which the final words rhyme with another]
  3. Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
  4. Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back'd toads.
  5. Don't waste time saying "it," just use the letter "t" = 'tis, t'will, I'll do't.
  6. Verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.
  7. When in doubt, add the letters "eth" to the end of verbs = he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth.
  8. To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.
  9. When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer's day. If that fails, say "Get thee to a nunnery!"
  10. When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.

A 21st Century Shakespeare?

St George's Day HistorySt George - Patron Saint of England

Despite the legend of Saint George slaying a dragon, St George was a real person.  Historical records show that his father was a career soldier in the Roman army, while his mother was from Lydda (Lod) Israel.  What is strange is that Saint George never actually set foot in England; he spent his life in what today we call Turkey and the Middle East.

As with many saints, it is Saint George's death on 23rd April in 303 AD that cements his anniversary in the calendar.  Indeed, it was his gruesome death in Palestine, that was instrumental in the Catholic Church declaring St George an illustrious and Great Martyr.  The precise date of St George's birth is not recorded, but it was believed to be in 275 AD, thus he lived for only 28 years.

For those who do observe this most English day, the most tasteful emblem to announce this day to one and all, is a single red rose.  The other place you see the red rose emblem is on the shirts of the England rugby team.

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Footnote:
See more St George's Day English jokes.

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See more Saints Days and other special days in spring :

Australia Day   • Up-Helly-Aa   • Groundhog Day   • Shrove Tue   • Candlemas   • Happiness Day

Special Days   • St David's Day   • Charles Dickens   • St George's Day   • Shakespeare's Day

Cherry blossom day   • May Day   • Special day today   • St Patrick's Day   • Lady Day