Today is William Shakespeare’s 400th “deathday”, and lit nerds everywhere are cheerful that it’s one of those weird moments when people are talking about literature. The man himself needs no introduction, he’s perhaps the greatest writer to ever live. Though the Greek dramatists introduced the modern play, Shakespeare is the guy that made it perfect. And for the 400th anniversary of the loss of the world’s greatest playwright, here are three fun facts.
1.) He got the ladies, and hilariously so.
A few years ago the historic actor Richard Burbage’s diary was on display and it had an interesting entry. When Burbage was perhaps one of the best actors in the world, at the height of his career, he was playing in the Globe Theater (Shakespeare’s theater). He was so successful that some scholars suggest that Shakespeare was writing plays specifically with Burbage in mind. One night a female fan approached Burbage and invited him to her room, she told him to come as “Richard III”. However, it seems that Shakespeare overheard the encounter and when Burbage showed up he found the playwright in bed with the fan. The next day Shakespeare sent a note to Burbage that read “William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third”.
2.) He put a curse on his own grave.
When Shakespeare was writing it was common for bodies to be exhumed and bones to be moved. Gravedigging wasn’t an unusual crime at the time either. The playwright was worried that his bones might be dug up so he inscribed a curse on his grave in his hometown of Stratford-on-Avon that reads “Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,/ To digg the dust encloased heare;/ Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,/ And curst be he that moves my bones.”
3.) He was probably a bit of a stoner.
Last August the Telegraph reported that when scientists dug up Shakespeare’s garden they found tobacco pipes with traces of Marijuana. There was also evidence of cocaine nearby but not from his garden.