365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

276. 10 fun facts about Shakespeare

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Though not a lot is known about Shakespeare, we do know just enough to offer a few cool and interesting facts about the man and his life!

10. According to his contemporary Ben Jonson, Shakespeare “never blotted a line”, meaning he could write with real speed, elegance, and accuracy – no mean feat with a quill pen. We may possible see and example of his writing in the play “Sir Thomas More”, in which a few pages are largely accredited to Shakespeare (but still up for some debate).

9. Shakespeare’s vocabulary was probably around 20,000-30,000 words. The modern person has a vocabulary of closer to 50,000, so Shakespeare’s figure may not seem impressive, but consider this: words like “internet”, “television”, and “computer” did not exist yet. Therefore, his vocabulary was pretty strong! Of course, it is far more important to note what Shakespeare did with the words he knew rather than the number of words that he knew.

8. One of Shakespeare’s children was named Hamnet. That’s not a typo – but it sure is interesting how close it is to the title of what is possibly his most famous play! Hamnet was named after a friend of the family. Unfortunately, the poor boy died at the age of 11, with a surviving twin sister.

7. There are lots of theories that suggest that Shakespeare may have secretly been Catholic at a time when it was deadly to be so. Though nothing conclusive has been determined, it is not out of the question and remains a question for scholars all over.

6. A new play called “Double Falsehood” was only recently officially attributed to Shakespeare. This may give hope to scholars who seek to credit him with other works of the time!

5. You may have heard of the play “Love’s Labour’s Won”, which is sometimes considered a “lost” play of Shakespeare’s. However, some scholars suggest that the play is, in fact, “found”, but under a different title – usually “Troilus and Cressida” or “The Taming of the Shrew”.

4. Shakespeare was a master at borrowing from other works. In fact, entire lines of his can be found in other works that predated his. This was not much of an offense back then, and several of his contemporaries also borrowed , sometimes almost word-for-word. Marlowe was also a skilled borrower!

3. It has been suggested that Shakespeare spent time in Italy during his “lost years”, due to the rush of plays set in Italy after this period. However, no conclusive evidence has been presented.

2. Shakespeare loved his anachronisms. One of my personal favorites is a reference to Cato in his play “Coriolanus” – when Cato would not even show up until 300 years after the play is set!

1. Shakespeare’s works are made up of 884,647 words, which adds up to 118,406 lines. Thanks to Marvin Spevack’s obsessive counting, we know this and can really appreciate how large Shakespeare’s body of work is. It sure makes that 10-page paper due Monday look like a walk in the park!


Written by Caroline Mincks

July 4, 2010 at 11:20 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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