Even though your ninth-grade English teacher might have lulled you to sleep as he droned on about the symbolism in Othello, Shakespeare himself was anything but boring.
From his strange children’s names to his sassy signature personal style (it’s more than possible Shakespeare wore a single signature gold hoop earring), the famous playwright lived quite a colorful life.
Though honestly, can someone figure out if Shakespeare actually wrote ANY of the plays he says he did?
There are a lot of facts out there about the famous playwright. We’ve compiled the top 10 most mind-blowing facts about Shakespeare, ranging from funny facts about Shakespeare to unusual facts about Shakespeare to facts about Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Let’s get started.
Shakespeare Fact No. 1: He Married Anne Hathaway
No, not the perfect-lipped, angel-voiced, kinda annoying actress from our time – but Shakespeare’s wife did have the same name.
The pair married when Anne was already three months pregnant with her first child (*gasp* scandal!) and they eventually had three kids together.
At Shakespeare’s death, he left Anne his “second-best bed.” If that’s not romantic comedy, we don’t know what is.
Shakespeare Fact No. 2: He Had a Kid Named HamNET. Seriously.
Shakespeare’s only son was named Hamnet.
That isn’t a typo, and yes – it’s just like the name of Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Obviously, some historians think that the connection is a little too wild to just be coincidence, and there’s speculation that Shakespeare drew on his relationship with Hamnet to write Hamlet.
Sadly, Hamnet died when he was just eleven years old.
Shakespeare Fact No. 3: Shakespeare’s Father Was Paid to Drink Beer
Shakespeare’s father was out there living his best life before that was even a thing.
John Shakespeare was elected the borough “ale taster,” which means that he checked out all the bread and malt liquors until he was convinced they were ok. Or he got hammered. Either one.
John was also, according to some sources, an illegal wool dealer, a landlord, and a glove-maker, so it’s safe to say he would have had quite the LinkedIn profile.
Shakespeare Fact No. 4: He References Birds More Than 600 Times in His Plays
Birds are a great metaphorical tool, but we all know that there can be too much of a good thing.
Shakespeare apparently had never heard this saying or else just didn’t care. The dude loved birds. He also made around 200 references to dogs in his plays.
He liked animals! So, sue him. (Don’t – that would be dumb)
Shakespeare Fact No. 5: “Sorry, There’s No E”
We’re spelling Shakespeare’s name wrong. Well, probably.
There is little evidence that William Shakespeare ever spelled his name the way that we currently spell it. He sometimes spelled it ‘Willm Shakp.’ There are nearly 80 other different versions of Shakespeare’s name that appear throughout records and other historical documents.
Granted, many people were illiterate during that time so they were probably just doing the best they could.
Shakespeare Fact No. 6: Shakespeare Was ADAMANT That His Eternal Rest Not Be Disturbed
Seriously, don’t even try.
Shakespeare was so adamant that his bones be left alone that his tombstone contains a curse for anyone who tries to move him. It reads:
“Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, / To dig the dust enclosed here. / Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.”
Even in death he was very eloquent.
Shakespeare Fact No. 7: He Made Up, Like, Thousands Of Words
The English language is made up of words adapted from Latin, Greek, and … Shakespeare? It turns out the playwright is responsible for thousands of words that we still currently use today. Some of these include bloodstained, frugal, eyeball and hint.
Shakespeare Fact No. 8: He Wasn’t Exactly Law Abiding
Shakespeare hoarded food, and during times when food was scarce, he would sell it for super high prices. Wow! What a great guy!
Just kidding, this was completely illegal and really sh*tty.
Shakespeare Fact No. 9: Taxes? What Taxes?
It turns out that Shakespeare may have been threatened with jail time for tax evasion, just like the great politicians, artists, writers and businessmen of our time! Some things never change.
Shakespeare Fact No. 10: He Played the Ghost in ‘Hamlet’
Shakespeare was an actor and a writer (#doublethreat) and he sometimes performed in his own plays. One of the roles he was known to play in his very smelly theater (according to some post-humuous hearsay), was the Ghost of Hamlet’s father.
Maybe as a form of catharsis for the way his own relationship with his son was cut short?
No But Seriously, Did Shakespeare Write His Plays?
We don’t know, okay! Scholarly consensus generally says that Shakespeare did write his plays, but we’re learning new things every day.
What we do know is that, unlike our ninth grade English class, Shakespeare certainly wasn’t boring.