This will be the last installment of Shakespeare trivia from that wonderful tome, The Shakespeare Miscellany by David and Ben Crystal. Ten more favourites:
1. Between 1585, when Shakespeare’s twins were born and 1592, when there is a first reference to him in London, there is no documentary evidence of his life. . . The period has been appropriately called the ‘lost years’. p. 40
2. In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin released 80 starlings into New York’s Central Park because they were mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Hotspur says, ‘I shall have a starling be taught to speak’ (Henry IV, Part I, I.3.221). There are now over 200 million of them in North America. p.39
3. Donald Wolfit’s oft-repeated advice on playing King Lear: Get a Cordellia you can carry and watch your Fool! p.36
4. The two plays [by Shakespeare that have] attracted more film adaptations than any other: Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. p.34
5. Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, 1891: Shakespeare might have met Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the white streets of London, or seen the serving-men of rival houses bite their thumbs at each other in the open square; but Hamlet came out of his soul, and Romeo out of his passion. p.21
6. Anthony Burgess on Hamlet, Shakespeare, 1970, p.175: The play which, of all plays ever written, the world could least do without. p.7
7. Al Pacino: Mark Rylance plays Shakespeare like Shakespeare wrote it for him the night before. p.49
8. Since October, 1990, an image of Shakespeare, as a hologram or a printed logo, has been used as a theme for the UK’s Domestic Cheque Guarantee Card Scheme. The hologram, when moved from side to side, shows Shakespeare frowning, then warmly smiling. p.85
9. According to the law, plays were not allowed during the 6 weeks of Lent — the pre-Easter period in the Christian calendar. In 1579, the Privy Council issued a directive that ‘there be no plaiers suffered to plai during this tyme of Lent, until it be after the Easter weke’. The directive was often ignored.
10. Orson Welles, in the book he wrote with Roger Hill, Everybody’s Shakespeare: Shakespeare said everything. Brains to belly; every mood and minute of a man’s season. His language is starlight and fireflies and the sun and the moon. He wrote it with tears and blood and beer, and his words march like heartbeats. He speaks to everyone and we all claim him, but it’s wise to remember, if we would really appreciate him, that he doesn’t properly belong to us but to another world that smelled of columbine and gun powder and printer’s ink and was vigorously dominated by Elizabeth. p.37
I leave you with that last thought!