Celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday: A Glimpse into His Life and Legacy
William Shakespeare, known across the world for his remarkable literary contributions, was born (and died) on April 23. This date is recognized not only as St. George’s Day but also as Shakespeare’s birthday. The year was 1564 when the world was gifted with this legendary wordsmith.
Celebrating Shakespeare’s Birthday: A Dive into the Bard’s Life
Every year on the 23rd of April, we celebrate two significant events: Saint George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s birthday. Born in 1564, this remarkable playwright also passed away on this date in 1616. His life began and ended in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where you can visit his childhood home and the very room where he likely took his first breath.
As a young adult, Shakespeare moved to London. The exact reason or timing for this move is unknown to scholars, but it marked the start of his incredible journey in the world of literature.
Shakespeare’s Debut in London
One of the earliest mentions of Shakespeare in London comes from the notably bitter critic, Robert Greene. In 1592, he scornfully referred to Shakespeare as “an upstart crow” and accused him of plagiarism. Greene doubted that a provincial young man with no Oxford or Cambridge education could pen such eloquent plays himself. However, while Greene met a tragic end due to excessive drinking, Shakespeare continued his journey to immortality.
Shakespeare and Bankside: An Intriguing Connection
Shakespeare holds a significant association with Bankside, London. His original theatre, the Curtain, stood to the city’s north, near today’s Liverpool Street station. Following a dispute with the landlord, they disassembled the entire building, transported it across the Thames, and reassembled it over the 1599 Christmas break.
The reconstructed theatre, The Globe, sat close to its main competitor, the Rose. This was the home to playwright Christopher Marlow, the man Greene accused Shakespeare of copying.
The Original Globe’s Location
Contrary to popular belief, the original Globe wasn’t situated where the 1990s reconstruction stands near the Thames, but further back, under the Southwark Bridge approach. The Globe met its unfortunate end in 1613 during a performance when a cannon ignited the thatched roof, causing a fire. Although they rebuilt it, the theatre was later dismantled by the Puritans in the 1640s.
Unveiling Shakespeare’s Tomb Effigy
Recent research suggests that the effigy adorning Shakespeare’s tomb in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, was commissioned by Shakespeare himself. He placed the order with a renowned tomb maker located near today’s Globe Theatre in Bankside, London. The researchers argue this effigy is the only known “portrait” made from life, although it strikingly resembles other popular images of the bard.
Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!
Dr Stephen King is a Westminster Tour Guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Stephen’s walking tours.