Had Hamlet never existed, playgoers would still speak of Macbeth, an upwardly mobile and downwardly moral Scottish thane who, with the steady prodding of his perhaps-mad wife, lets nothing stand between him and the throne and is defeated only by a combination of traveling trees and a C-section baby.4
Before he died, Mr. Shakespeare would see his plays performed at Blackfriars Theatre, at the Globe (which burned down during a performance of “Henry VIII,” an event perhaps more exciting than anything that happens during “Henry VIII”)Important to remember appreciation can sometimes take a while...
It should be added that Mr. Shakespeare was equally, if not more, revered in his lifetime for his non-theatrical poetry. His “Rape of Lucrece” (not as graphic as it sounds) went into multiple reprints, and “Venus and Adonis”—dedicated to his then-patron, the 3rd Earl of Southampton12—was the greatest publishing coup of his career, far outselling any editions of his plays.And in one of the footnotes:
Why not the foremost English writer? In “Shakespeare: The World as Stage,” Bill Bryson writes that at the time of Shakespeare’s death, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher and Ben Jonson all enjoyed greater esteem as playwrights. Beaumont was the first dramatist to be buried in Westminster Abbey — an honor never accorded Shakespeare, even though the two men died a few months apart. It took another century for Shakespeare’s reputation to outstrip that of his peers.Astounding claim - I mean "lonely"? "Excellent"?
More than 2,000 words received their first recorded use in his work, including “barefaced,” “assassination,” “excellent,” “frugal,” “eyeball,” “auspicious,” “swagger,” “zany,” “summit,” “moonbeam,” “obscene,” “cold-blooded,” “hot-blooded,” “epileptic,” “fashionable,” “gossip,” “lonely,” “grovel,” “torture,” “manager,” “well-read,” “buzzer” and “rant.”
But most astounding of all: William Shakespeare, Playwright and Poet, Is Dead at 52.
Fifty two. Fifty fucking two.