There are so many words and phrases we use these days thanks to William Shakespeare.
He’s credited for inventing the words bandit, critic, dwindle, and for being the first person to use elbow as a verb.
The Bard was setting records with his wordsmithery hundreds of years before we had even started monitoring them.
So, let’s celebrate his birthday by examining the impact he continues to have on the world of record breaking 459 years after he was born.
While the exact date of the English playwright’s birth isn’t known, it’s commonly believed that he was born on or around this date in April 1564.
It is known that he was baptised on 26 April that year, and people commonly celebrate his birthday on 23 April.
He died at the age of 52 on 23 April 1616, which sadly means that it’s very possible he died on his birthday.
Despite his short years, he achieved an awful lot, most notably penning 39 plays and 154 sonnets, earning himself a reputation as one of the greatest playwrights of all time.
Among his many achievements, Shakespeare holds the record for the first use of the term “birding”.
The first written use of the word appears in The Merry Wives of Windsor, a play written in 1602, when Mistress Quickly says to Falstaff: “Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn your heart to see it. Her husband goes this morning a-birding; she desires you once more to come to her 45 between eight and nine: I must carry her word quickly: she'll make you amends, I warrant you.”
Birding in this sense means hunting with firearms.
And it’s thought that the first use of the word for birdwatching didn’t come until many years later in 1896.
Shakespeare’s works also mean he holds the record for best-selling playwright with more than four billion copies of his plays and poetry having sold around the world, and he’s the most filmed author, with well over 1,000 film adaptations of his plays.
One of only five copies of his First Folio, printed in 1623, is the most expensive literature by Shakespeare sold at auction, fetching $6,166,000 (£4,156,947) in 2001, and he’s also the most cited author by American judges thanks to the many wise words he wrote down.
Some of Shakespeare’s other records include:
• Most deaths in a Shakespeare play – 14 in Titus Andronicus
• Longest speech in a Shakespeare play - Romeo’s friend Mercutio gives a speech about dreams that’s 43 lines long in Romeo and Juliet. His speech could have been much longer if it wasn’t for Romeo cutting him off mid-sentence by saying: “Peace, peace, Mercutio! Thou talk’st of nothing.”
• Longest Shakespeare play – Hamlet is 4,042 lines or 29,551 words long
• Highest grossing Shakespeare movie – Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, took $147,542,381 (£118,433,744) on general release between 1 November 1996 and 14 February 1997
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