April 23, 2015 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. He died on this day in 1616 at the age of 52 – a remarkably old age for those times. People around the world have engaged in festivities to celebrate the playwright’s legacy, especially in his birthplace, the medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
But although Shakespeare is engrained in British culture and history and many people, not just the Brits, have studied both his life and his works extensively, there’s actually not that much that is known about the acclaimed playwright.
Nobody knows exactly when he was born
What is recorded is his christening on April 26, 1564. As for the exact date of his birth, nobody has a clue. However, since in those times the tradition was to christen the child a few days after birth, we can assume he was born sometime between April 20 and 24.
None of his direct descendants are alive today
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust informs us that Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna had a daughter of her own, Elizabeth, who went on to marry twice but had no children. His other daughter, Judith, married and had three sons, but they all died before having children of their own.
His ‘lost years’
There are two periods in Shakespeare’s life (1578-1582 and 1585-1592) known as the ‘lost years’. The SBT collected some theories that have been formulated to account for the lack of factual information, such as that he was a school teacher in his birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon, a butcher, a lawyer’s clerk or a soldier.
He married very young
He was 18 when he married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than him, and they had their first child, Susanna, six months after they married.
Current everyday phrases
Besides being credited for introducing over 3,000 words into the English language, there are also many phrases coined by the playwright that are still much in use today. The British Council reports that we owe it to Shakespeare that we have phrases such as “heart of gold”, “wild goose chase”, “faint-hearted”, “break the ice” or “love is blind” in our vocabularies today.