Edited photo of the famous 1610 Chandos Portrait of William Shakespeare, April 23, 2018 – Wikimedia Commons/National Portrait Gallery.
CAIRO – 23 April 2018: William Shakespeare is perhaps the most famous author who ever lived, across any language. It is Shakespeare who gave us “Romeo & Juliet”, “Hamlet”, and countless other classic stories, influencing entire generations of famous writers in turn.
Yet not many people know the story behind the life of the man himself.
April 23 is believed to be the day Shakespeare passed away in the year 1616, and it is also in April that we know he was baptized, on April 26, 1564, though the date of his exact birthday is lost to us. April 23 is also widely considered to be his birthday, though there is no confirmation of this fact. His father was John Shakespeare, a businessman and leatherworker who eventually rose in rank to become something like mayor of the town of Stratford after marrying Shakespeare's mother, Mary Alden, who belonged to a rich and powerful family.
Due to his family's social standing, the young Shakespeare was able to attend one of the finest schools in Stratford, a prestigious grammar school that featured a curriculum focused on learning the Latin language and performing Latin plays, giving Shakespeare his first taste of what he would come to do in the future. By the time he was 18 years old, Shakespeare had married a woman named Anne Hathaway and went on to have three children with her.
His life is a mystery up until his name began to be recorded in London's records of its theatrical company. Scholars have debated what his earliest written play would have been, though it is commonly believed he started off with the historical play "Henry VI: Part II", which was performed from 1590 until 1591 and eventually published in 1594. The play that truly brought him attention is the enduring and timeless tale of "Romeo and Juliet", first published in 1597.
Shakespeare's early career was filled with comedy as well, including "A Midsummer's Night Dream", published around 1595. His career spanned 20 years, which in total saw a word-count of about a million words.
Even beyond his immense contributions to fiction, Shakespeare's lasting legacy includes influencing the very language he wrote in as well. It is thanks to Shakespeare that the English language has such rich, poetic methods of expressing emotions such as joy, love and loss, and he is also credited with introducing witty expressions such as being "in a pickle" or going on a "wild goose chase", which were popularized in “The Tempest” and “Romeo and Juliet”, respectively.
By merging words together or importing from other languages, Shakespeare was able to create new ways of expressing the rich meaning in his stories, which has helped ensure his eternal fame.