William Shakespeare: Fun Facts and Why He Has The World's Most Valuable Autograph

Updated on July 26, 2018
Timothy Anderson profile image

Tim Anderson is a freelance writer/researcher with articles published in The Saturday Evening Post, Playboy magazine, TV Guide, and others.

Some of Shakespeare's works have been translated into the fictional language of Star Trek's Klingons.
Some of Shakespeare's works have been translated into the fictional language of Star Trek's Klingons.

Shakespeare And The Klingons

It would appear that Shakespeare's influence has reached far into our galaxy….

Any serious Star Trek fan can tell you that the "Klingon Language Institute" which is dedicated to creating, continuing and preserving the fictional language of the Klingon empire from the sci-fi TV series Star Trek, has translated Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing (along with the Bible) in the Klingom language.

After all… when it comes to Shakespeare, "not yap wa' Hol!"

Shakespeare in Outer Space!

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Actor Joseph Fiennes played Shakespeare in the Academy Award-winning movie, "Shakespeare in Love."
Actor Joseph Fiennes played Shakespeare in the Academy Award-winning movie, "Shakespeare in Love."

Shakespeare's Birthday: To Be… Or… Not to Be...

The life of William Shakespeare has always been somewhat cloaked in controversy, and the exact dates of his birth and death are no different.

William Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Arden in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. His father was, for awhile, town mayor and a prominent businessman dealing in farm products, leather, and wool. Mother Mary was the daughter of a wealthy local farmer, and they were considered to be affluent and influential citizens of Stratford.

However, in the 1570s, father John would run into some financial and legal problems that caused the family embarrassment and hardship.

The traditional month and date of William's birthday is given as April 23, 1564, although some scholars disagree. April 23 is Saint George's Day, and the national day of England. His death date is less controversial, but ironically is given on his tombstone as "April 23, 1616," which would have been his 52nd birthday, and again, falls on the national day of England.

Today the celebration is called "British National Day," and celebrates "Britishness." Some researchers find it curiously coincidental that the world's greatest writer just happens to have been born and died on the most celebrated holiday date in Great Britain.

Shakespeare's Signature

The Most Valuable Autograph in the World

There are only six known examples of autographs of William Shakespeare in existence. All exist on legal documents and are currently safely protected in institutions.

While an exact estimate of value is nearly impossible to make, some autograph experts believe any of these six authentically-signed William Shakespeare documents could easily sell at auction for $15 to 25 million each.

Furthermore, not a single handwritten copy of any of Shakepeare's plays has ever surfaced, and most scholars believe they've been destroyed or lost to time.

Should one of his original, handwritten plays ever be discovered, it could easily sell for $100 million or more!

Who Has The Second-Most Valuable Autograph in the World?

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Some of the Bard's Best Quotes

William Shakespeare quotes may well be the most recited of any literary figure.

Here are some of the best:

  • "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once."
  • "Listen to many, speak to a few."
  • "This above all; to thine own self be true."
  • "God has given you one face, and you make yourself another."
  • "Better three hours too soon than a minute too late."

Teenage Dad: Shakespeare and His Wife and Kids

The life of William Shakespeare is still being analyzed and studied by researchers around the world.

One of the most oft-asked questions asked about the great English writer is whether or not he was married, and did he have children. He was married at 18 to an "older" woman, 26-year-old Anne Hathaway who was pregnant with their first child when they had their nuptials. Their first child was a daughter, Susanna, who was born six months after her parents' wedding in 1853. The couple would have two more children, a son, Hamnet, and a second daughter, Judith who were twins.

It's possible that Shakespeare also had other children outside his marriage, but no substantial evidence of this has ever surfaced. Some researchers have even suggested the bard was homosexual, but again, there is nothing credible to substantiate these claims.

Hamnet, by the way, will die at age 11, and some scholars believe his death inspired Shakespeare when he wrote Hamlet, and possibly parts of his other famous plays.


stratford upon avon:
Stratford-upon-Avon CV37, UK

get directions

William Shakespeare was born and buried in Stratford-upon-Avon in central England, approximately 100 miles northwest of London.

High School Drop Out?

Shakespeare never had the advantage of attending university.

It is believed he attended a local grammar school where he learned to read and write. And he studied and participated in plays by Roman poet Ovid, and it's here where the young lad probably began his initial interest in writing.

Outside of school, the aspiring poet would also have been taught business skills by his father, and by all accounts, papa Shakespeare was a good teacher. Young Will grew up to be a very capable businessman, and later in life as his fame and fortune grew, he formed a company with his actors and everyone received a share of their company's profits, and Shakespeare pocketed a nice sum of money for each play he produced.

From The Following List of William Shakespeare Plays, Which is Your Favorite?

Which of the following is YOUR favorite Shakespeare play?

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Will the Real Estate Investor

Before the works of William Shakespeare ever brought him any bit of literary notoriety, he dabbled fairly successfully in real estate.

When he was 33, William purchased "The New Place," which was considered one of the most prestigious properties in the town, and where he would spend the rest of his life. He also made a one-hundred percent profit on some land near Stratford which he bought and sold.

Many historians believe Shakespeare could have a keen and wealthy businessman had he settled on a career in real estate, but the lad's inner voices were calling, and he decided to become a playwright.

Shakespeare's English…. and More!

Any serious Shakespeare bio will acknowledge the fact that at least 500 "new" words were introduced into English in his many plays.

In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary credits him with creating nearly 3,000 words, many commonly used today.

Some of the words he's credited with creating include lackluster, bump, useful, amazement, countless, radiance and many others.

The Bard on Avon is also remembered fondly for introducing many new phrases such as "foul play," "one fell swoop," "with bated breath," "vanish into thin air," and "to be in a pickle."

And any serious list of popular William Shakespeare quotes would be a long one indeed, and one of his most famous is "to be, or not to be: that is the question."

Words Created by the Bard

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Was His Name Really "Shakespeare?"

Historians have pointed out that they have discovered more than 80 different spellings of Shakespeare's name in historical documents and commentary.

Most of the controversy centers on the spelling of his last name, which has been written Shakspere, Shaxpere, Shakespe, Shaxberd, Shakspeare, and dozens of other ways.

There is not a single example that exists today where he spelled him name as we know it today: "William Shakespeare."

Belonging to the Catholic Church in England was forbidden during the bard's lifetime.  However, Anglican Archdeacon Richard Davies wrote that Shakespeare was a closet Catholic.
Belonging to the Catholic Church in England was forbidden during the bard's lifetime. However, Anglican Archdeacon Richard Davies wrote that Shakespeare was a closet Catholic.

Was Shakespeare Religious?

During Shakespeare's lifetime, the Church of England and the Catholic Church were engaged in a battle to save British souls.

Queen Mary (reigning 1553-1558) was okay with Britons being Catholic, but her predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I (reigning 1558-1603) was not. Many British Catholics had to practice their faith in private for fear of retribution.

Since Catholicism was basically illegal under Queen Elizabeth I's reign, few Britons publicly declared their faith. But some years after Shakespeare's death, Richard Davies of Lichfield, the Anglican Archdeacon, wrote that Shakespeare was Catholic.

Is There a Curse on Shakespeare's Grave?

Shakespeare's Tombstone Curse!

The life of William Shakespeare came to an end on April 23, 1616. He was buried where he was baptized into the Church of England when an infant, the Holy Trinity Church. Today, this cemetery is the most visited of any in all of England.

There is a headstone over the tomb which reads:

"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebeare
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."

It is believed the old bard wrote this himself before dying at the age of 52. According to fairly reputable sources, Shakespeare had been heavily drinking one night with his friend and fellow playwright, Ben Jonson. Falling ill, he none-the-less was able to quickly pen these last words before passing away shortly thereafter.

Apparently, the old Bard was concerned that grave robbers might plunder his eternal resting place and wanted to clearly discourage such action. And it seems to have worked, since his grave has remained undisturbed now for 400 years!

A 5-Minute Shakespeare Bio!

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Tim Anderson


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      • Timothy Anderson profile imageAUTHOR

        Tim Anderson 

        4 months ago from Utah

        Thank you! You are absolutely right and I've corrected his age! I appreciate your input!

      • Glenis Rix profile image


        4 months ago from UK

        An engaging article. Forgive me for pointing out a small error - Will purchased New Place in 1597, at the age of 33.

      • profile image

        Patty Russell 

        8 months ago

        Very interesting and I loved the quizzes. 2 thumbs up!


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