Bet you didn’t know that Shakespeare was really the Duke of York, did you? (He wasn’t). But here are ten statements about Shakespeare for you to judge as “true” or “false.” The answers will follow after the break.
1. Shakespeare often wrote about far-flung places in his plays, but he only visited Italy and France.
2. Shakespeare was the only major Elizabethan writer of sonnets who also wrote plays.
3. Shakespeare made sonnets popular in England.
4. Though Shakespeare’s sonnets were published in his lifetime (1609), they were apparently published without his involvement or approval.
5. In addition to writing plays, Shakespeare continued to act throughout his life—even in others’ plays.
6. Shakespeare, who was actor, playwright, and shareholder in theaters and theater companies, was unique in his day.
7. An old tradition held that Shakespeare’s finest performance as an actor was as King Hamlet’s ghost in Hamlet.
8. Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, was named for his play, Hamlet.
9. The Winter’s Tale, about a man (Leontes) who gets a second chance after sixteen years of separation from his wife and daughter, was written around sixteen years after Shakespeare established himself as a playwright in London, leaving his wife and children in Stratford.
10. Shakespeare became a grandfather at 43.
1. False: he never ventured out of England.
3. False; when Shakespeare began his career, sonnets were all the rage in England but by 1600, they had lost most of their popularity.
5. True. In fact, he is listed as a performer in two Ben Jonson plays: Every Man In His Humour (1598) and Sejanus His Fall (1603).
6. True; none of his contemporaries is known to have played so many roles (so to speak) in the theater.
8. False. The similarity between the names of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, and his play, Hamlet, lead some to think the play was named for the son or the son for the play. However, Hamnet and his twin sister were named after Shakespeare’s friends, a baker named Hamnet Sadler and his wife, Judith.
10. True; his first grandchild, Elizabeth, was born on February 21, 1608. She was the only grandchild he ever knew (his other grandchildren were born after his death in 1616).