William Shakespeare ( 1564-1616)
On April 23rd we celebrate the Day of the book which remembers Cervantes´and Shakespeare´s deaths. These two important writers lived in the same age, but never met. (There is a film “ Miguel y William” 2007 by Inés Paris which shows an imaginary relationship).

We know a lot about the Spanish writer and here you will find some facts about the English one.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon on April 23rd 1564. His father had different jobs, but mainly he was a glover, he was also Major of the town. He was the third son of eight brothers and sisters. It is not clear that he attended school. Some critics think that he studied at home (Bible, Latin, Literature and Rhetoric) He didn’t attend university.

When he was 18 years old he married Anne Hathaway, eight years older than he, because she got pregnant of their daughter Suzanne. They were not happy and after three years he went to London. He became an actor in James Burbage Company and acted in Hampton Court in front of the Queen. His beginning in London is unknown. Some people think that he took care of horses at theatre, went into the army, worked as a teacher etc.
He started to write following the authors of the age and one of the critics (Greene) referred to him as “agita lanzas” (shake spears) or “agita escenas” playing a game with his name). He wrote 37 plays (tragedies, comedies, historical) from 1588 to 1613 and a collection of sonnets. The characters and the themes of his plays are very varied; we find merchants, sailors, lovers, classical characters, mythology, fairies, people from the streets, kings, Queens, people from far away countries, people from different races etc. Most of them taken from Elizabethan public. He loved monologues and long speeches. He loved passion and action in his works, but there is also a lot of psychology in his characters.

He was protected by the Duke of Southampton and some think he was really his lover. There is a legend related to his homosexuality.

He was a catholic and a good defender of the Crown (Elizabeth I) who protected him too.

There is a theory which affirms that he didn’t exist, that all his works were written with a pet name by authors of his age such as Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere but it is not proved.

He returned to Stratford where he had bought a new house called “New Place” and lived for some time with his daughter , wrote his will and died quietly in his birthday April 23rd in 1616 ( it was really 10 days later as England followed the Julian calendar and not the Gregorian one).



If you click on the following link you will be able to watch an interesting video about the insults Shakespeare used, after watching the video you will
be able to do activities about it ( multiple choice, answer questions and so on)

The Language used in Shakespeare's time was very different from the one we have now, but the pronunciation was also different, it's called OP ( old pronunciation), in these two videos you can see and listen to an expert on linguistics from the university of Wales ( David Crystal) and an actor at the Globe theatre reciting and comparing both pronunciations. As you listen to them, write down as many differences as you can.