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Fun Facts

  • During his time, Shakespeare was often referred to as “The Bard of Avon.” Today, he is simply called “The Bard.”
  • It’s considered extremely bad luck to use the name of the play Macbeth inside theaters. As a consequence, many directors, actors, and stage workers refer to Macbeth as The Scottish Play.
  • Speaking of Macbeth, the first recorded knock knock joke in history is in the play Macbeth, courtesy of the drunk porter.
  • There are only two authentic likenesses of Shakespeare. One is the memorial bust at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford (where he was baptized and buried), which was approved by people who knew him.  The other is the engraving by Martin Droeshout, which appeared in the 1623 First Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays.
  • Shakespeare’s tragedies typical end with the last person to have a speaking line being the recently crowned king or the person about to be crowned king. Essentially the “winner” of the tragedies has the last word.
  • Shakespeare’s comedies would today be called romantic comedies. You know it’s a comedy if it ends with one or more marriages.
  • During Shakespeare’s life, women were forbidden to act. Men and boys played all of the roles, both male and female.
  • Shakespeare’s plays were never intended for study or for particularly studious audiences. Most of his audience was illiterate, and, since they drank beer or wine instead of water, were at least a little drunk all the time.
  • Another popular form of entertainment during this era in London’s history was bear-baiting, which involved chaining bears up in an arena and having large dogs attack them. Since this is the sort of entertainment Shakespeare was competing with, you know his plays must have been entertaining. Shakespeare referenced bear-baiting in his comedy,The Merry Wives of Windsor.
  • Around 1500 viewers could sit or stand in the Globe Theatre. 
  • When their landlord planned to shut down the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare and some friends literally dismantled it and moved it across the Thames River to a new location. It took them one night (to see the episode of Drunk History which discusses the event, go to the "Watch These!" page).
  • A replica of the Globe was built in 1996 near the original site, using authentic to the original time period tools and techniques. It is an operating playhouse and major attraction for tourists and theater goes alike.

Modern English

Shakespeare contributed more words and phrases to modern English than any other single person. Here is just one list, but there are many more!



Image showing quotes originally from Shakespeare

Listen Not Watch - Check out the Folger Shakespeare Library's Podcast

Macbeth, by Smash Mouth

This is written to the rhythm of the hit 1999 Smash Mouth song All Star. If you don't know the song, it's a pretty useless box. 



Screenshot of meme

Shakespearean Insults

Monkeys Reproducing Shakespeare