William Shakespeare Facts

Behold these brainy facts about Britain's best bard! Roll up, roll up for Williams Shakespeare facts!

You've almost certainly heard of William Shakespeare - he's one of the UK's most famous poets and playwrights. In fact, he's famous all over the world! But how many of these weird and wonderful William Shakespeare facts did you know? 

If you like this, why not check out our Shakespeare quiz and see what you've learned? For more awesome stuff, check out our book jokes and fun facts, and why not have a look at our awesome guide to drawing Shakespeare!

Shakespeare Invented LOADS of words

We really mean loads too! There's hundreds of everyday words and phrases that didn't exist before Shakey popped them in his plays, including; lonely, dauntless, dwindle, lacklustre, anchovy, addiction, bloodstained, cheap, control, freezing, green-eyed, moonbeam, dawn, shipwrecked, upstairs, zany, informal, hint, posture...the list goes on and on! 

The Globe, london
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Shakespeare was friends with the king

That's right, Shakespeare got to chum up to royals Elizabeth I and James I (VI of Scotland), who would pay him money to write plays. This meant often his plays would be written especially to suit his royal pals. For example, it's thought that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to appeal to James' fascination with Witchcraft and Scottish history! 

Man dressed as king on white background

We don't know when Shakespeare was born

Nowadays your parents have to fill out a birth certificate as soon as your born, but not in Will's time! Records back then weren't as formal, so although we know the year he was born, we don't know the exact date. Some people think it was 23rd April - which was also the date he died! Talk about ruining a birthday party. 

An old Tudor house

We don't know how many plays Shakespeare wrote

Generally, people agree that Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, but there's every chance that some plays have been lost to history, which means we'll never get a chance to read everything he wrote! Who knows what masterpieces have been lost to history?

Bookshelf in old room

There's a conspiracy theory that Shakespeare didn't really write any of his plays!

Some people believe that Shakespeare was just a cover, and his plays were actually written by someone else - or a whole bunch of different people, including Queen Elizabeth I! This is because his will doesn't mention his work at all, and we don't have much info about his life in general.   Some people think is fishy,  but most people think he really DID write all those plays! He really was that brilliant! 

Old book in front of row of books

Shakespeare had lots of enemies

It was tough being a poet in Elizabethan times, and lots of people didn't like Shakespeare, or were jealous of his success.  One writer, Robert Greene, called Shakespeare an 'Upstart Crow', which is kinda rude.  His greatest rivals were writers like Christopher Marlowe, who sadly died in a pub fight. There are even theories that some of their plays and poems contained insults about each other! Sneaky!

Shakespeares Grave
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Shakespeare's plays are performed more than any other playwright

That's right, he's a record breaker! His plays have been translated into hundreds of languages and are performed all over the world, as well as being adapted into films, TV shows and even songs!

Pile of old books

There is no record of what Shakespeare was up to between 1585 and 1592.

There is no record of what Shakespeare was doing in the 7 years between 1585 and 1592. These have been called the 'lost years' and people have lots of fun imagining what sort of thing he could be doing, including; being a spy, travelling the world as a pirate, or working for the queen. But to be honest, he was probably just hanging out with his family!

Waxwork of Shakespeare holding skull

No one knows how to spell 'Shakespeare'

Nowadays we spell his name 'Shakespeare' but no one, not even Will himself, spelled it one way! His name has been written down as   "Shakespear",  "Shakspeare", "Shackspeare", and "Shakspere"! In those days, spelling wasn't standardized, which meant you could spell words pretty much how you pleased. Imagine how much easier school was if you could spell stuff any way you liked!

Old writing and papers

There were no female actors in Shakespeare's time

 Acting (and in fact, most professions) were not considered respectable jobs for women, so all of the parts in Shakespeare's plays would have been performed by men and teenage boys. There's lots of boys dressing as girls in Shakespeare's plays, which meant that sometimes you'd see a boy dressed as a girl dressed as a boy! Confusing, right?

Interior of the Globe theatre
Image by Shutterstock

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