Shakespeare’s plots and characters are as alive and relevant today as they were in the 16th century. Image Credit: Shutterstock

By contributing nearly 3,000 new words to the English language, along with additions to literature and poetry that include 154 sonnets, 39 plays, two narrative poems and a few verses, British poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare is one of the most prolific storytellers in the Western world.

Click start to play the Weekend Crossword. Can you name all the modern novels that share storylines with Shakespeare’s work?

Although over 400 years have passed since he wrote his last play, Shakespeare’s plots and characters are as alive and relevant today as they were in the 16th century. But just how well do you know the Bard?

Here are five interesting things about Shakespeare that will help you learn more about the man behind the stories:

1. Shakespeare the actor

Even as Shakespeare’s first printed works were published in 1593, he spent a great deal of time on his theatrical ambitions. He became the founding member of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company of actors. Over the next few years, he performed many of his own plays, as well as those of other playwrights, such as Ben Jonson, who was a 'frenemy' of the Bard.

2. His depiction may not be accurate

Although Shakespeare’s image has been reproduced over and over again, no one truly knows what he looked like, since none of the printed portraits accompanied his work in his lifetime.

3. Some people think he’s a fake

More than 200 years after his death, authors and historians began questioning whether Shakespeare did, in fact, write everything that was attributed to him. He was a provincial commoner who had never gone to college or ventured outside Stratford-upon-Avon. Yet, he displayed in-depth knowledge about politics, European capitals and history, along with the customs of the royal court and the aristocracy. Some theorists therefore think that one of the other famous authors of the time, such as Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe, used his name to conceal their true identity. Others believe Shakespeare did actually write his plays, but perhaps he collaborated with other playwrights who brought in perspectives he wouldn’t have been familiar with.

4. His epitaph has a cautionary curse

The poet-playwright’s tomb lies on the banks of the Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon in the UK. On a dark grey slab on the floor of the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church is an epitaph that Shakespeare apparently wrote to scare away grave-robbers. The words read: “Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here: And curst be he that moves my bones.”

5. The Bard’s reach is universal

By universal, we mean cosmic. The planet Uranus has 27 moons, and most of them have been named after Shakespeare’s characters, such as Titania, Oberon, Puck, Bianca, Cressida and Desdemona.

Play the Weekend Crossword and discover just how far-reaching the Bard’s influence truly is. Let us know if you enjoyed the puzzle at