“What’s in a name?”: Shakespeare Day, April 23rd

April 27th, 2022 – Kayla Thompson, Adult Services

Shakespeare is a name that is known across the world. He is taught in schools, studied at universities, and found on the shelves of libraries, bookstores, and the public alike. His works have been and still are translated into every known living language (and honestly probably one or two dead ones as well) and his plays are still being performed and adapted to modern times. You will find his influence in everything from Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood to Walt Disney’s The Lion King. So, what’s in a name? Well, if you are William Shakespeare, quite a lot. 

William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd, 1564 (or April 26th. It’s not clear. His baptismal records indicate the 26th but birthdates weren’t recorded at this time.) in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Interestingly enough, he also died on April 23rd, 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon at just 52 years old. For these reasons, Shakespeare Day is celebrated on the 23rd of April each year. In the UK it is known as National Shakespeare Day or just Shakespeare Day and in the US it is known as Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Either way, it is a day to remember one of the most famous poets and influential writers of all time. 

During his time, Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays while collaborating on quite a few more. Seventeen of these were comedies, 10 were historic plays, and most of the rest were tragedies. He is responsible for writing 154 sonnets, 2 narrative poems, and a few other minor poems. A decent portfolio if you ask me. Though nowadays people find Shakespeare a little overdone, there is something to be said for a man whose plays are still being taught, studied, read, and practiced over 400 years later. Though his works are well known, his writing shaped a time, built an era, influenced theater through the ages, and changed language to become what we know it today. That is pretty impressive no matter who you are. I think the reason that Shakespeare holds so much interest is that even though we have been studying him for over 400 years, there is still so little we know of him as a person. Little is known about his social life outside of his plays that he continues to hold the public’s curiosity and will probably continue to do so for time to come.

Below are some of the library materials that are by or about Shakespeare or are retellings of Shakespeare’s stories:

Fiction:
Macbeth by Jo Nesbø
Hamnet : A Novel of the Plague by Maggie O’Farrell
Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett
Miranda and Caliban by Jaqueline Carey
Juliet’s Nurse: A Novel by Lois Laveen
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan
Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper

Nonfiction:
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Othello by William Shakespeare
Richard III by William Shakespeare
Hamlet by WIlliam Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup
The Globe Guide to Shakespeare by Andrew Dickson
The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro
Shakespeare: The Essential Guide to the Plays: Plots, Characters, Quotes, History by A.D. Cousins
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (Biography)
A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, 1599 by James Shapiro
Shakespeare: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd (Biography)
How to Speak Shakespeare by Cal Pritner
Coined by Shakespeare: Words and Meanings First Used by the Bard by Jeff McQuain
Shakespeare: A Life by Park Honan (Biography)
Essays on Shakespeare by Gordon Smith
Shakespeare and His World by Ivor Brown
An Introduction to the Sonnets of Shakespeare for the Use of Historians and Others by John Wilson
Shakespeare Said It by William Shakespeare

Movies:
Romeo + Juliet

The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series (Richard III)
Much Ado About Nothing

The Tempest
Twelfth Night
A Midsummer Knight’s Dream
The Merchant of Venice
10 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew)

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