My photo of Shakespeare's Birthplace
My photo of Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Happy 450th Birthday to William Shakespeare!

Although it is not actually known which day in 1564 William Shakespeare was born, his birth is celebrated on 23rd April because he was baptised on 26th April and baptism usually took place around three days after birth. It is also St George’s Day, St George being the patron saint of England, so it seems a fitting day to pay tribute to the Bard. William Shakespeare also died on this day in 1616. He was buried at the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

You can read more about William Shakespeare in my article over at The Elizabeth Files – click here. But I’d like to celebrate Shakespeare’s life by sharing this video of Sonnet 116 being performed first in ‘Received Pronunciation’ and then in ‘Original Pronunciation’, the way it would have been read in Shakespeare’s lifetime.

If you want to get involved in the Happy Birthday Shakespeare international online event, click here.

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3 thoughts on “23 April 1564 – William Shakespeare”
  1. I know today is Saint George’s Day, Patron Saint of England, a Greek Roman soldior I believe he actually was; but I would rather celebrate the birth of William Shakespeare our national treasure. Whethe he was an Earl in disguise, a woman or a genuine genius, the real William Shakespeare was more intriguing than any of the rubbish theories about him out there today.

    His plays have entertained countless generations and our teachers have driven us potty with their failure to present him correctly and with imagination when we were in school. I loved reading and even watching his plays and poems and sonnets at school; but by myself and not when my teachers attempted to water them down. I even, inspired probably by Luther as we were doing him in history, wrote a thesis on why teachers should not water his words down and how to teach him better and engage bored teenagers in his writings; took the 14 page document and nailed it to the door or the headmistresses office. I was 14 or 15 at the time and did not appreciate why a genius like Shakespeare was being produced to us in a mind mumming manner when he was presenting life at its worst and best and most exciting in all of his plays. He may not have always presented history correctly, but he made political and social points to the authorities of his day in his writings. His plays were considered dangerous by a paranoid council who believed a performance of Richard II would cause Elizabeth’s people to rise as it was being shown before the Essex rising. Elizabeth much more level headed had no such fears. I wanted the real points that Shakespeare was making to be taught, his work explained and the class to come up with better ways to study his work in a way that made it relevant to a modern teenage audiance. It is written in beautiful but hard to understand English, but there is more to his work than that; and there are ways to help people to read the plays so as they can understand and access them. I put my ideas down and I was commended for my audacity and original thinking. From then on Shakespeare in my school was made in a much more exciting and engaging way for us and we could understand and appeciate his work properly. A pity it is still taught in ways that bore teens today: people never learn their lessons.

    There are some aspects of the real life of the real William Shakespeare that are intriguing: his religion for one thing. Was Shakespeare a Catholic in private? In his search for shakespeare drama Michael Woods revealled documentary evidence from his family church and the archives that pointed to his father and brother having sympathies for the old faith and that he himself may have been proto Catholic; if not a practising one. I am not sure which ones, but some historians and lingquistic experts who have studies the structure of the words in his plays believe they have hidden references to his Catholic past and to activities of that nature. It is all speculation of course but it makes for interesting reading and makes the word smith historically intriguing.

    For those of you who are Shakespeare fans there is a series of special performances of his plays from the Globe on Sky Arts 2 (Channel 130) and this evening at 8 p.m and 2 a.m it is Henry IV.

    Happy Birthday Will Shakespeare: Genius and first class author. Long may he be appreciated.

  2. P.S The One Show on BBC1 North West was live this evening at Stratford upon Avon at the house were Shakespeare was born and grew up and the church that he was baptised. It was a large house, and I remember well my own visit there some years ago; we only had about four hours there on a coach trip but it was a wonderful place. The show showed the inside of all the rooms, the garden and various groups dressed up, the vicar from his church spoke about him there; and a band was outside for the celebrations. The main celebrations will go on all day on Saturday wiht many events planned.

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