Engraving of William Shakespeare from the first folio edition.

William Shakespeare

(1564 - 1616)

William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. After choosing marriage over university at eighteen, he went on to become the indispensable dramatist of the theater company Lord Chamberlain’s Men. In the five-year span of 1599 to 1604, Shakespeare wrote Henry V, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure, and Othello. Playwright Ben Jonson, his contemporary, said Shakespeare was “not of an age, but for all time!”

All Writing

Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

—William Shakespeare, 1603

Men are merriest when they are from home.

—William Shakespeare, 1599

Voices In Time

c. 1200 | Denmark

Body Politic

Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh.More

O flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!

—William Shakespeare, c. 1596

Voices In Time

1609 | Stratford-Upon-Avon

Trading Places

“I scorn to change my state with kings.”More

Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.

—William Shakespeare, c. 1610

Voices In Time

1595 | Verona

Sweet Sorrow

Romeo and Juliet on the balcony.More

Voices In Time

1599 | London

Heaven of Invention

O for a muse of fire, that would ascend / The brightest heaven of invention!More

What is the city but the people?

—William Shakespeare, 1608

Voices In Time

44 BC | Rome

Last Words

I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar.More

’Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.

—William Shakespeare, c. 1595

Voices In Time

1623 | England

Disinheritance

For Cordelia, nothing comes from nothing.More

Miscellany

“But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?/It speaks, and yet says nothing.” An apt description of TV, Marshall McLuhan said, when he quoted Shakespeare in Understanding Media. Romeo’s line is in fact “She speaks, yet she says nothing,” and refers to Juliet, who is likened to light—and it actually occurs in the play ten lines after the first.

Words pay no debts.

—William Shakespeare, 1601

Voices In Time

c. 1611 | Prospero’s Island

Claims Dispute

Who is the true lord of the land?More

I do desire we may be better strangers.

—William Shakespeare, 1600

Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear.

—William Shakespeare, 1592

Miscellany

In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macduff asks the Porter, “What three things does drink especially provoke?” The Porter replies, “nose painting, sleep, and urine”—the first of which is usually taken to mean the red flush that comes across a drinker’s face. It also leads to lechery, the Porter says, adding, “it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”

Miscellany

Titus Andronicus is William Shakespeare’s bloodiest play; the body count reaches fourteen. Rounding out the top-three deadliest plays are Richard III (eleven) and King Lear (ten).

Voices In Time

c. 1600 | Denmark

Finite Jest

William Shakespeare clowns around among the graves.More

Miscellany

The first lines spoken by the old shepherd in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale are, “I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.”

Miscellany

In 1662 diarist Samuel Pepys saw two plays by William Shakespeare performed in London. Of Romeo and Juliet he wrote, “It is a play of itself the worst that ever I heard in my life, and the worst acted that ever I saw these people do.” A Midsummer Night’s Dream he described simply as “the most insipid, ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life.”

Voices In Time

1609 | London

Not Fade Away

William Shakespeare compares thee to a summer’s day.More

Voices In Time

c. 1592 | Padua

Wordplay

William Shakespeare gives a lesson in taming a shrew. More

Issues Contributed