Who is Willy S.?
When I think about William Shakespeare I fondly remember attending a rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when I was in high school. I remember dreading the performance but left the theater with a surprising respect for the famous playwright. Honestly, I can say that I didn’t understand everything that was said, as the language was so foreign to me, but I do remember the humor and it was very funny.
There were four Athenians: Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius. It was quite a love fest that left Hermia with two suitors and Helena with none. What a hook! It involved magic potions, fairies, lies and deceit. The play was quite the makings of a modern day “Housewives” show.
I’m fortunate to live in Evansville, Indiana, a college town with two Universities who support the arts in education and community. The University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville are both known and respected for their drama departments.
USI is affiliated with several theaters in New Harmony, Indiana where I later saw Romeo and Juliet with my husband. New Harmony is a quaint, little, “artsy” town on the Wabash River and must be visited if you are ever in the Southern Indiana area! (http://www.newharmony-in.gov/about_new_harmony.php)
I remember as an adult, when watching Romeo and Juliet, I was invested in the underlying meanings of the language, the humor and the tragedy. It was equally as entertaining but much more meaningful. I was so excited that I got it!
That being said, there are many things about Shakespeare that I don’t get.
The poetry is remarkably complicated. It makes me feel somewhat inferior as I try to keep up. The English language of his day was so luscious and tenaciously relevant to that time period, it doesn’t translate well today.
Possibly another problem with the language in his works is that he created thousands of his own words. Only Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss can get away with that! For example, he is the creator of arch-villain, birthplace, bloodsucking, courtship, dewdrop, downstairs, fanged, hunchbacked, leapfrog, misquote, pageantry, radiance, schoolboy, stillborn, watchdog, and zany, just to name a few.
Most of his sonnets involve the decaying of time, fleeting beauty and love. This can be dark and dreary yet also alluring. I suppose he drew from his past but was fairly young when he became a successful author and playwright. He was only 25 when he wrote his first play and was a successful actor by the age of thirty. There is much controversy about the details of his life as the records are sketchy but he was definitely brilliant in writing, entertaining and a successful business man.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, he died a wealthy man. Known for writing comedies, I doubt his wife Anne was amused when he only left her their “second best” bed in his will.
William Shakespeare is definitely an intriguing writer that managed to find his niche without any formal education or literary background. So…does that give you hope as an inexperienced writer? If I were you, I wouldn’t quit your day job! Remember, he was well-respected in his day but the true glory and fame came hundreds of years after his death.
I challenge you to pull out an old copy of Macbeth or one of the many other cherished works of Willy Shakespeare and start reading. There is much to learn from this brilliant poet. The playfulness of his words, his humor, hyperbole, symbolism and his darkness…all useful things for writers to have in their pockets.
Here is a list of a few favorites: Henry VI, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Cymbeline, A Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.
20 Interesting Facts about Willy S.
Born on April 23, 1564
( My Husband’s Birthday…a coincidence? I thinketh not!)
Died on April 23, 1616
In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway
He was 18 when married and Anne was 26
Had eight children (One son died at age 11)
He was a successful entrepreneur
Wrote 37 plays ( this number varies from article to article)
He was good friends with Elizabeth I, queen during his life
Was affiliated with a theatre group known as the Lord Chamberlains Men
Used the word dog or dogs over 200 times in his works
Was rumored to have created over 1,700 words for the English language
Invented the word assassination
Never attended a University
Did not die in poverty, unlike many of his fellow authors of the time
Had an earring in his left ear
He was known as “honey-tongued.”
Performed in many of his own plays
First job was holding horses outside the theatres
Rumored to copy many of his famous plays from other writers
Made over 600 references to birds
You may say that his style and content is too deep for children’s authors. I will agree that we shouldn’t use his style or content for a picture book, but we must study the greats to have a deeper understanding of what it is that we do. I have dedicated 2014 to learning the craft of writing poetry and rhyming picture books. Along the way, I hope to find courage and inspiration.
Please join me!
“The rhyme’s the thing wherein I’ll speak
the words and let them sing.”
Bluebook Style William Shakespeare, http://www.biography.com/people/william-shakespeare-9480323 (last visited Feb 02, 2014).
Absolute Shakespeare http://absoluteshakespeare.tripod.com/homepage/id1.html