Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

Actually, no one is quite sure when Shakespeare’s birthday was.  His life is largely undocumented; he left no personal papers.  But we do know he was baptized on April 26, 1564, so his birthday is traditionally celebrated on April 23rd.

No one single person has had a greater impact on the English language, so much so that many conspiracy theories have emerged over the years about ghost writers.  How could one man with a grammar-school education have written 38 plays and 154 sonnets, plus some epic poetry, and have been so knowledgeable about history, politics, and foreign affairs?  Speculation about possible uncredited authors have ranged from Francis Bacon to Queen Elizabeth I, but all have remained unproven.

So Shakespeare remains solely credited with contributing 3000 new words and countless expressions to our mother tongue.  If you’ve ever talked about “a fool’s paradise,” “dead as a doornail,” “eaten out of house and home,” “heart’s content,” “love is blind,”  “wild goose chase,” or “into thin air,” you’re quoting Shakespeare.  His contribution is truly extraordinary.

For more on the life of William Shakespeare, read The Writer’s Almanac’s entry of April 23, 2017 at http://writersalmanac.org/page/2/ .  By the way, April 23rd is also the birthday of singer Roy Orbison.



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