2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is one of the world’s greatest playwrites but he also wrote many sonnets (poems). He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire in 1564 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He moved to London to be an actor but he began to write plays instead. Even though 400 years have passed since his death, his plays continue to be performed in theatres around the world.
He lived in exciting times. He was a young man when Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world in 1577-1580. Shakespeare was most likely living in London when the Spanish Armada sailed to attack England in 1588. He witnessed the coronation of King James I in 1603 and the Gunpowder Plot occurred in 1605. Shakespeare died in 1616.
The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our commonly used words. He changed nouns into verbs, changed verbs into adjectives, connected words never before used together, added prefixes and suffixes, and devised words wholly original. Here are some examples of some of the words Shakespeare invented:
academe, accused, addiction, advertising, amazement, arouse, assassination, backing, bandit, bedroom, beached, besmirch, birthplace, blanket, bloodstained, barefaced, blushing, bet, bump, buzzer, caked, cater, champion, circumstantial, cold-blooded, compromise, courtship, countless, critic, dauntless, dawn, deafening, discontent, dishearten, drugged, dwindle, epileptic, equivocal, elbow, excitement, exposure, eyeball, fashionable, fixture, flawed, frugal, generous, gloomy, gossip, green-eyed, gust, hint, hobnob, hurried, impede, impartial, invulnerable, jaded, label, lackluster, laughable, lonely, lower, luggage, lustrous, madcap, majestic, marketable, metamorphise, mimic, monumental, moonbeam, mountaineer, negotiate, noiseless, obscene, obsequiously, ode, olympian, outbreak, panders, pedant, premeditated, puking, radiance, rant, remorseless, savagery, scuffle, secure, skim milk, submerge, summit, swagger, torture, tranquil, undress, unreal, varied, vaulting, worthless, zany
Here are some links to visit to learn more about Shakespeare and of some of the events around England to mark the 400th anniversary of his death: