Shakespeare’s Words

Monday, 23 April, 2018

The world celebrates William Shakespeare’s birthday today. He was born on 23 April, the same date he died in 1616, aged 52. Actually, while his death is documented officially, we’re not fully sure about the exactness of his birth. What we do know is that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1565 and that his baptism was recorded in the Parish Register at the Holy Trinity Church on Wednesday, 26 April 1564. Given that baptisms usually took place within three days of birth back then, it’s believed that the Bard was born on this day, 454 years ago.

To mark the occasion, linguist David Crystal and his actor son, David, have released the 3.0 update of their ShakespearesWords.com. “The financial side of the site is now administered by Professor D Crystal & Mrs H Crystal Business Partnership,” we learn in the History of the site section, and the funding model allow ten free page views “for anyone who just wants a quick browse or query.” After that, one has the option of purchasing a day ticket, a month ticket, a year ticket or a 10-year ticket. Website management is costly and bills have to be paid.

“But the comfort is, you shall be called to no more payments, fear no more tavern bills.” — First Gaoler, Cymbeline, Scene 5 Act 4

Background: Posthumus Leonatus is in prison, and the warder is saying that while he’s not in a great place, the upside is that he doesn’t have to pay his bar tab.

And a favourite for the day that’s in it? This from Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 2:

Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.


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