Today, April 23, 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and 452nd birthday. In honor of this auspicious occasion, here are a few things you may not have known about him.
One: Translations into Klingon
Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream have been translated into Klingon as part of the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project by the Klingon Language Institute. It stems from the line in Star Trek VI by Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, who said, “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.”
Also, don’t forget the phenomenal Christopher Plummer, who plays General Chang, in Star Trek VI, who perfected The Shakespeare. Check out the Transmedial Shakespeare to see all of his performances.
Two: Cursed Grave Marker
There is a curse as an epitaph on Shakespeare’s grave, at Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, written by Shakespeare himself.
GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTe BE Ye MAN Yt SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE Yt MOVES MY BONES
Shakespeare’s name has multiple spellings recorded. It seems as though he never signed the same way twice, at least in the six surviving records of his signature. Shakespeare spelt his name as follows in legal documentation (his will, his mortgage, his purchase of a house, and a deposition in the Bellott v Mountjoy case of 1612).
By me William Shakspeare
Four: His father was an ale taster
Shakespeare’s father, John Shakespeare, was an expert craftsman in high quality leather goods and gloves. When they moved to Stratford-on-Avon, William’s father was appointed to one of the highest ranking public offices in the town: official ale-taster in 1556. In Elizabethan times, an ale-taster, or ‘conning’ was an important position.
Since Medieval times, towns across England had appointed official “conners” to test the strength and quality of all locally-brewed ale to ensure that it was sold for a fair price, and would therefore raise an appropriate amount of taxable revenue. The job ultimately carried a considerable amount of responsibility—conners were required to swear an oath, and were given the power to lower the price of ale they deemed to be of poor quality, and to report breweries that were sub-standard or engaged in fraudulent, underhanded practices.
Five: King James Bible
In Psalm 46 of the King James Bible, the 46th word is ‘shake‘ and the 46th word from the end of the same Psalm is ‘spear‘. Rumor has it that it was written that way as a hidden happy birthday message to him. The King James Bible was published in 1611, the same year Shakespeare was turning 46.
46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.