Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary

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This past weekend, Saturday April 23rd, was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, was born in 1564 and died on April 23rd in 1616. He was an English poet, playwright and actor – widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. His complete body of work consists of:

  • 38 plays
  • 154 sonnets
  • 2 long narrative poems
  • a few other verses

We aren’t sure if this is all he has written since there are plenty ¬†uncertainties about authorship. His plays were translated into every major language and are performed more than any other playwright. Fun fact: at the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, not the actress obviously, and they had 3 children together. In his early twenties, he became a successful actor and writer. In 1613, when he was 49, he retired to Stratford and died three years later.

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Between 1589 and 1613, Shakespeare wrote most of his known work. He started with mostly comedies and histories, regarded as some of the best works ever produced in these genres. Then he went on to write tragedies and his last works were mostly tragicomedies. Ben Jonson described Shakespeare’s work as “not of an age, but for all time.”

I am a, personally, a big fan of Shakespeare. That is not very hard considering I studied English and literature in university, so Shakespeare was very present. Besides that, I own a dictionary-like tome that contains the complete body of Shakespeare and a few of the plays in separate editions. I like to read out the iambic pentameter verses of both his plays and sonnets, because they just sound so beautiful. My love for the author, poet and playwright started in high school, when we had to memorize a Shakespeare speech for extra points on the exam. I can still recite Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech by heart and am forever grateful to my English teacher for introducing me to the Bard.

What better way to honour the greatest English poet and playwright of all time, than by sharing my most favourite Shakespeare quotes with you guys.

Twelfth Night:

If music be the food of love, play on…

Hamlet:

This above all: to thine own self be true.

As you like it:

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

King Richard III:

Conscience is but a word that cowards use, devised at first to keep the strong in awe.

Romeo and Juliet:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Measure for measure:

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

Julius Caesar:

Et tu, Brute!

Macbeth:

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Othello:

The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

If you just can’t get enough of Shakespeare quotes, be sure to check out Goodreads’ selection, or Buzzfeed’s 34 of the most brilliant Shakespeare quotes. What are some of your favourite Shakespeare quotes? Please share them with me in the comments!

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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