To get information in Spanish place the arrow of your mouse on the highlighted words without clicking.
Para obtener información en español acerca la flecha de tu ratón a las palabras o frases resaltadas.

SHAKESPEARE: Britain's Man of the Millennium

Mark Hull

William Shakespeare
voted the Man of the Millennium for Britain.
He is considered to have
the most influential
figure in Britain
the last millennium

This is amazing news when you consider how little people know about him.

William Shakespeare is believed to have been born in April 1564 and died in April 1623. He married Anne Hathaway at the age of 18, and had three children, including a son who died at the age of 11. He was an actor, playwright and poet. He wrote, or helped to write 38 plays although several scholars dispute the number of plays he wrote. Shakespeare is the only author to have had over 300 films based on his plays. In British schools Shakespeare is the only compulsory author and every British student is familiar with at least one of his plays. Even Flemish painter Frans Hals (1584-1666) painted a portrait of Shakespeare.

However, over the centuries, many scholars have written articles and reviews claiming that Shakespeare did not write all the plays. What is the truth?

In the 1950s George Elliot Sweet’s Shakespeare The Mystery claims that Queen Elizabeth was the author. Other scholars claimed that Shakespeare’s works were written by Sir Francis Bacon. In the early nineteenth century the writer, Henry James wrote: ‘I am sort of haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest most successful fraud ever practised on a patient world’.

In 1987, The Moot Court Debate in Washington DC in America held a mock trial with three judges of the Supreme Court. Two of the judges, while voting for Shakespeare on legal grounds, expressed their interest in Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford as being the author. However, there are contemporary papers which mention Shakespeare and his plays being performed at the famous Globe Theatre and also at Court.

Despite the controversy over what he wrote, there is no doubt that Shakespeare’s works have had a great influence on the English language. Many famous phrases have been linked to Shakespeare. For example, the phrase ‘I have not slept a wink’ (meaning "I have not slept at all") is attributed to Shakespeare. The phrase ‘cold comfort’ (meaning "of little or no comfort") is also said to belong to the Bard.

His influence on other cultures is also leading to moves to turn him into a cultural icon for Europe. The European Commission has now backed a proposal from Germany’s Goethe Institute for a giant Shakespeare festival in Belgium, with his plays being performed in many different languages. The Goethe Institute says that Shakespeare is just too big a writer to belong to just one European country.

Source: New English Digest


Shakespeare is believed to have been born...: Historians believe that Shakespeare was born... (se cree que Shakespeare nació...)
: dramatist, someone who writes plays (dramaturgo)
scholars: learned people (especially in the humanities) (eruditos)
to have had: who has had (que ha tenido)
: mandatory, something you must do (obligatorio)
I am sort of haunted by: I am obsessed in a certain way by (estoy obsesionado en cierto modo por)

fraud: fake, something intended to deceive (fraude, engaño)
mock trial: an imitation of a trial (simulacro de juicio)
on legal grounds: legally (legalmente)
controversy: disagreement, discord usually about a  theory (controversia, discusión)
the Bard: in celtic it means "lyric poet", as Shakespeare is usually known (el Bardo)
icon: model, image (ícono)
backed: supported, voted for (apoyado)
too big a writer: such a prominent writer (un escritor demasiado importante)





You like Shakespeare as much as I do, don’t you, Ted?


I love most of his plays, Dave, but reading them is nothing compared to seeing them in the theatre.


That’s true. Do you think Shakespeare really wrote all the plays which are attributed to him?


I guess we’ll never be 100% sure, but if he didn’t, who do you think did?


I’ve never doubted that he wrote them all himself, but there are lots of conflicting theories.


Now that you mention it, I remember reading an article which claimed Elizabeth I wrote them!


Other theories support Lord Oxford, Christopher Marlowe and others. I’ve never believed them.


Neither do I. The Bard wrote his own works. Genius can’t be explained!!



Read the article again and find the answers to the following questions. Then check your answers here.

1. Who was the nineteenth century writer who thought Shakespeare
    was a fraud?

2. Name two people that scholars say were the true authors of
    Shakespeare's works.

3. What was the name of the theatre in which many of Shakespeare's
    plays were performed?

4. What is the phrase attributed to Shakespeare that means, 'I have not
    slept at all'?

5. Which country may hold a Shakespeare festival?

6. What was Anne Hathaway's relationship to Shakespeare?

7. How old was Shakespeare when he died?

8. Which famous portrait painter is mentioned in the article?