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William Shakespeare 400 Anniversary

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564.  To mark the 400 Anniversary of his death we have selected a number of books to help your children discover more about the life and works of the greatest playwright of all time.

The Gap of Time The Winter's Tale Retold

The Gap of Time The Winter's Tale Retold

Author: Jeanette Winterson Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/06/2016

A baby girl is abandoned, banished from London to the storm-ravaged American city of New Bohemia. Her father has been driven mad by jealousy, her mother to exile by grief. Seventeen years later, Perdita doesn't know a lot about who she is or where she's come from - but she's about to find out.

Shakespeare's Strangest Tales Extraordinary but True Tales from 400 Years of Shakespearean Theatre

Shakespeare's Strangest Tales Extraordinary but True Tales from 400 Years of Shakespearean Theatre

Author: Iain Spragg Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2016

Discover a wealth of Shakespearean shenanigans over the years, including the terrible behaviour of the groundlings at Shakespeare's Globe, how the 'rude mechanicals' in A Midsummer Night's Dream got recast as a bunch of ladies from the WI, and how Dame Maggie Smith got even with Sir Laurence Olivier.

Shakespeare in Ten Acts

Shakespeare in Ten Acts

Author: Gordon McMullan Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2016

Four hundred years after Shakespeare's death, it is difficult to imagine a time when he was not considered a genius. But those 400 years have seen his plays banished and bowdlerized, faked and forged, traded and translated, re-mixed and re-cast. Shakespeare's story is not one of a steady rise to fame; it is a tale of set-backs and sea-changes that have made him the cultural icon he is today. This revealing new book accompanies an innovative exhibition at the British Library that will take readers on a journey through more than 400 years of performance. It will focus on ten moments in history that have changed the way we see Shakespeare, from the very first production of Hamlet to a digital-age deconstruction. Each performance holds up a mirror to the era in which it was performed. The first stage appearance by a woman in 1660 and a black actor playing Othello in 1825 were landmarks for society as well as for Shakespeare's reputation. The book will also explore productions as diverse as Peter Brook's legendary A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mark Rylance's 'Original Practices' Twelfth Night, and a Shakespeare forgery staged at Drury Lane in 1796, among many others.Over 100 illustrations include the only surviving playscript in Shakespeare's hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, and rare printed editions including the First Folio. These - and other treasures from the British Library's manuscript and rare book collections - will feature alongside film stills, costumes, paintings and production photographs.In this book ten leading experts take a fresh look at Shakespeare, reminding us that the playwright's iconic status has been constructed over the centuries in a process that continues across the world today.

I Love Shakespeare 400 Fantastic Facts

I Love Shakespeare 400 Fantastic Facts

Author: Warren King Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2016

* One of Shakespeare's relatives was executed for plotting against Elizabeth I. * There are more than 80 records of Shakespeare's name. Not one of them says 'William Shakespeare'. * Shakespeare once played the ghost in Hamlet. * Shakespeare wore a gold earring in his left ear.

Willliam Shakespeare

A 400 Year Legacy

We know little about the early life of William Shakespeare, but do know that at 18 he married Anne Hathaway and had three children, Susanna and then twins Hamnet and Judith. His son, Hamnet died in childhood.


By 1592 he had moved to London and was working as an actor and playwright, and part of an acting company which later became known as the King's Men. This company had interests in the Globe Theatre on the Southbank and the Blackfriars indoor theatre, and by 1594 Shakespeare's playwrighting began in earnest.  He was a prolific writer, producing around two plays a year, he prospered and his reputation grew. 

 

His early plays were mostly histories and comedies - Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry VI, The Taming of the Shrew, Richard III amongst others.  By early 1600 he was writing some of his greatest tragedies such as Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear.


Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life living in New Place in Stratford and died on 23 April 1616 at the age of 52.  He was buried two days later in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford and is also commemorated in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.


Known as the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare is widely accepted to have been the greatest playwright of all time and his poems and plays are studied and performed all over the world.
 


To mark the anniversary there are numerous events including :

The Complete Walk with The Globe Theatre : A walk along the Thames celebrating scenes from Shakespeare's plays.

Shakespeare400 : A rich variety of exhibitions and talks on theatre, manuscripts, archaeology and artifacts from Shakespeare's world.

And performances across the capital and beyond at The Globe, Barbican and Royal Festival Hall - find out more here.