Despite living more than 400 years ago, the works of William Shakespeare continue to leave a lasting mark on learning, literature, and language. He's regarded as one of the greatest playwrights in history and for good reason. Whether you studied Shakespeare's history, language, plays, or sonnets in school, or you've identified with his characters and tapped into your inner Thespian by learning and practicing his works, he has likely impacted you in one way or another.
Let's dive into some interesting details about Shakespeare and uncover some Shakespeare fun facts to learn how his works have impacted modern culture.
Shakespeare Fun Facts
- Shakespeare wrote approximately 38 plays and 154 sonnets.
- Shakespeare is credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with introducing almost 3,000 words to the English language.
- He even went so far as changing nouns into verbs, combining two words into one, and adding additional suffixes or prefixes in search of the perfect word to fit the scene.
- Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language.
- Shakespeare's parents were very likely illiterate. William, on the other hand, attended grammar school where he mastered reading, writing, and Latin.
- No one knows what Shakespeare did between 1585 and 1592. Historians have speculated that he worked as a schoolteacher, studied law, and traveled across continental Europe.
- Shakespeare popularized hundreds of familiar terms and phrases through his works including 'fashionable,' lackluster,' 'in a pickle,' and 'wild goose chase.'
- Shakespeare's longest play is Hamlet (4,024 lines) which takes four hours to perform!
- Shakespeare's shortest play is The Comedy of Errors (1,786 lines).
- Shakespeare’s plays were never actually published during his lifetime.
- Shakespeare is responsible for the rise of certain historical characters through his works, the most famous being Cleopatra.
- Shakespeare's words, love poems, plays, and more have been translated into other media and inspired many different forms of art.
- The most translated is his beloved tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. It started as a play and has been adapted into a ballet, reimagined as a musical, inspired more than a dozen movies, and was even turned into a hit song by Taylor Swift.
Next up, some trivia covering Shakespeare poems, Shakespeare best plays, Shakespeare language, and much more! Let's increase your knowledge to get you ready to answer the question: Do You Know Shakespeare?
Which of Shakespeare's plays are listed among the Tragedies (in the First Folio of 1623)?
- King John
- King Lear
- Timon of Athens
- Romeo and Juliet
- Measure for Measure
Two of the above six don't belong. King John is a History, and Measure for Measure is a Comedy. The other four are Tragedies, so if you guessed numbers 2, 3, 4, and 6 give yourself a shilling!
Which quotations are from Julius Caesar?
- "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not praise him."
- "Et tu, Brute!"
- "Noble patricians, patrons of my right, defend the justice of my cause with arms."
- "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
- "Beware the ides of March."
- "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!"
Four of the above six quotes came from various acts in this play. If you guessed number 3 or 6...sorry, no schilling for you. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are all from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
Which words or phrases were popularized by Shakespeare?
- "One foul swoop"
- "Pride goes before a fall"
- "Wild goose chase"
- "Bated breath"
- "For goodness' sake"
Hopefully, some of the Shakespeare fun facts above helped answer this one! If you guessed answers 3, 4, and 5 - great job! Another schilling for you.
Curious about which of these phrases came from the works of Shakespeare, and which did not? You can find answers and much more in our complete trivia game, Do You Know Shakespeare? Picketh up your very own copy of this Shakespeare trivia game and playeth with 2-4 players ages 12 and up to increase your knowledge of Shakespeare and his literary works.