Chances are, you know the author of these words: “To be or not to be”; “What’s in a name?”; “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. If you guessed William Shakespeare, you’d be right.
Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can spot the bard in one of the clues.
For the last four centuries, the English playwright’s work has been memorised, performed, and been the subject of adaptations around the world. Why does his work continue to resonate with each generation?
A writer who was a compatriot of Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, noted seven years after the bard’s death, that Shakespeare was “not of an age, but for all time”. Here are some reasons why this might be the case, according to a February 2016 report by the University of Southern California, US:
1. His influence on the English language runs deep
We might be quoting Shakespeare regularly, without even realising it. From phrases like “in a pickle” or “tongue-tied to “It’s Greek to me”, or “green-eyed jealousy”, he’s responsible for coming up with not just new ways of expressing emotions, but also entirely new words. Even the Oxford English Dictionary put out a chapter in the 2019 book, The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, about how Shakespeare was often identified as either the sole user or the first user of new words that entered into the lexicon during his time.
2. He has a cosmic reach
Shakespeare’s works have transcended their earthly borders. The planet Uranus has 27 moons, and most of them are named for Shakespearean characters. From Titania and Oberon to Ariel and Miranda, Ophelia and Desdemona, they now belong in astronomy books and scientific journals as well.
3. He has an aura of mystery to him
More than 200 years after his death, American writer Delia Bacon and British bookseller William Henry Smith published their arguments on a topic that was raging at the time: Did Shakespeare truly author his work? Since then, more than 50 alternative writers have been suggested as the real authors of Shakespeare’s work – from philosopher Francis Bacon to poet Walter Raleigh. The idea of whether he did or didn’t gives readers another reason to peruse his works and figure out for themselves.
4. His image remains a mystery
When you think of Shakespeare, you likely think of the engraving by Martin Droeshout, which debuted in 1623 on the title page of the first edition of Shakespeare’s collected works, named First Folio – it’s become undeniably linked to his name. But in reality, no one today knows what he actually looked like. None of the printed portraits that are attached to his work date back to his lifetime.
5. His works are universal
Shakespeare’s works run the whole gamut of emotions, from hilarious to pithy to emotional. He was a master of storytelling, and imbued his characters with qualities that resonated with his audience. From Hamlet’s anguish to Ophelia’s distress, you can feel it all.