Famous for being the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare’s work spans the globe, earning his work the most performed of any other playwright. His own story however, laced with mystery and clouded by the time in which he lived has made him one of the most beloved figures of our time. He is a man admired by so many who ironically, know so little about him.
We know what we are, but not what we may be.
Steeped in speculation, Shakespeare’s life has been dramatised and studied much in the same way that his work has been. But instead I like to think of him as an ordinary man; a humble man who believed in the beauty of life, love and tragedy – to me, building him up as anything other than this would take away from his writing.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
In a time before photography, Shakespeare’s appearance is still largely unknown; countless portraits have been made by stitching together pieces of information over the years, but it’s his faceless entity, that I believe adds a richness to our vision of his work.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
It is another of Shakespeare’s great mysteries as to why he signed his named with so many variations. Over 80 different alternatives can be found amongst his surviving signatures and it has often been thought that this was due to a type of dyslexia, whilst others believe in madness.
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
This month marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, in 1616 at the age of 52 it is believed he fell ill after a night of drinking with a friend. Still to this day his grave remains untouched, in part due to the curse in which he had inscribed on his tombstone which reads “blessed be the man that spares these stones. And cursed be he that moves my bones.”
In celebration of the man himself, his life and his work the BFI have scheduled their longest running event ‘Shakespeare on Film’ from April – May with discussions, exhibitions and screenings of adaptations of his plays and work that he inspired. Book your tickets here.