Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter

10 strange facts about Shakespeare

Jessie Brown

This year marks 400 years since the death of Shakespeare and how his legacy continues

William Shakespeare

This year on 23rd April English playwright William Shakespeare would have celebrated his 400th birthday...if he was alive that is. He is by far one of the most famous names in the theatre industry and yet there are still many facts about Shakespeare that would shock and surprise you. Here are 10 strange facts to get you started:

  1. The only thing Shakespeare left to his wife in his will was the second best bed in the house. Yes his will read, ‘“I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture”. The “furniture” refers to the linen for the bed.
  2. One of Shakespeare’s relatives, William Arden, was arrested for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I. He was then imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed…ouch!
  3. Calling Shakespeare an Elizabethan playwright is actually incorrect. The majority of his plays were written after Queen Elizabeth’s death making him a Jacobean writer.
  4. Shakespeare seemed to be fond of one particular kind of death - suicide. In fact suicide occurs a whopping 13 times in the list of Shakespearean plays.
  5. Two of Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into Klingon, the language created for the Star Trek science fiction series. You can read Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing in the fantasy language, if you can read Klingon that is.
  6. The moons circling around the planet of Uranus are mostly named after characters from Shakespeare plays.
  7.  Shakespeare had a poem sketched into his tomb in Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. It says anyone who moves his bones will be cursed and consequently his grave has gone untouched since 1747.
  8. One of Shakespeare’s plays has been completely lost to history. There is evidence that he wrote a play called Cardenio which was performed in England, but no known copy of the play exists.
  9. Shakespeare never published any of his own plays. Thankfully his friends John Hemminges and Henry Condell did it posthumously and saved the world of theatre…too dramatic?
  10. Shakespeare only stopped writing plays and turned to sonnets because the plague which caused a shutdown of all play houses. Finally, something beneficial to come from the plague.

Add your own facts in the comment box below.

Back to more UK Culture