Interesting Literature

Ten common misconceptions about Shakespeare

As this Saturday sees the 400-year anniversary of William Shakespeare‘s death, we thought we’d turn our attention to the Bard and the numerous myths that have grown up around his life and work. Here are ten of our favourites. As with many of the details of Shakespeare’s life we cannot be sure these are all complete nonsense, but nor can we confidently say the opposite; but we should be wary of making too many assumptions about Shakespeare’s life.

He coined hundreds of new words. Shakespeare was clearly a linguistic innovator, a poet who could use words in ways hitherto unseen. ‘Light thickens’ (Macbeth), for instance. But did he really coin all of the words usually attributed to him? He may well have invented some of them, but the actual number is undoubtedly somewhat exaggerated. The more we learn about word history…

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