You’ll be hearing more and more about William Shakespeare as we approach his 450th birthday later this month. So you may as well arm yourself with some obscure trivia about the Bard, his personal life, and his works. Here’s a couple of tidbits from a list of ten.
6. Shakespeare's daughter was illiterate.
Of William and Anne Shakespeare's three children, two daughters survived: Susannah and Judith. While Susannah seems to have been able to sign her name, Judith could only make her mark. But in this period, literacy was a skill, useful in certain trades and professions, mainly male. Shakespeare was a man of his time, and his time didn't value literacy in women.
9. For two hundred years, the theatre made a dog's breakfast of Shakespeare.
Once the theatres reopened after the Commonwealth, they began a great tradition of doing whatever the hell they liked with Shakespeare's plays. They chopped them up and adapted them into musicals and pantomimes. Most notoriously, they got rid of the whole 'tragic' thing in the tragedies by giving them happy endings. (In 1681 Nahum Tate turned King Lear into a feelgood fest complete with a wedding for Cordelia and Edgar.) Reverence for 'The Bard' had to wait until the nineteenth century.