451 years ago, in the sleepy English town of Stratford-upon-Avon, one William Shakespeare was born…supposedly. Although no one actually knows his date of birth, records indicate he was baptised on 26 April, and there is general consensus that one was baptised back then three days after birth. So, although today is not officially Shakespeare’s birthday, it’s certainly the most widely accepted account—which, by the way, is just one of the many common myths and beliefs attached to Shakespeare.
On this (unofficially) auspicious day, I’m pleased to announce my new series of blog posts, entitled A Spot of Shakespeare. Every week, I’ll be making at least one post about an aspect of Shakespeare or Shakespeare-ness, such as his England, his language, his works, his contemporaries, and any recent productions I might have attended. Some of these will be brief overviews, while others will contain a detailed explanation of a Shakespearean snippet, but all in all, I’ll be keeping the posts relatively short so you can nibble on them along with tea and biscuits during an afternoon break.
Today marks Shakespeare’s supposed 450th birthday (“supposed” because there are no records of his actual birth date, though all sorts of fancy schmancy scholars and historians have basically agreed that he was born three days prior to his baptism on 26 April 1564). As a teeny sapling of 25, I am quite overwhelmed by Shakespeare’s (literary) longevity—he’s exactly 18 times older than I am!
To commemorate this momentous day, I decided to put together a list of my three favourite Shakespeare plays—for now. And, since I’m a teeny sapling Shakespeare scholar, I’m even going to try to explain why I love these plays so much (but do prepare yourself for what will essentially be a super gushfest).
Poetry is one of those rather elitist things that a lot of people hold in awe, find difficult to understand, and generally tend to avoid (unless they’re forced, usually by an academic institution of some description). One of the main reasons why poetry can be so difficult to grasp and enjoy is because the form has such a high concentration of language, where every word is used for a very particular reason (or so your English teachers keep stressing) and there are just so many different techniques and metaphors and other crazy things going on that you become overwhelmed and want to scream, “Just tell me what you’re trying to say already!” and then give up and never touch anything that has funny line-breaks ever again, and you instantly tense when you see something like this:
Poetry is one of those rather elitist
Things that a lot of people hold
In awe, find difficult to
Understand, and generally
Tend to avoid (unless they’re forced,
usually by an academic institution
of some description).