An Open Letter on Shakespeare

On Thursday it was Shakespeare’s Birthday (well his generally recognised one at least) as such I thought in celebration I could write about him in my new Open Letter series.   

Now if you grew up in the schooling system in the UK it is highly likely that you will have studied a Shakespeare play at some point during your schooling. During my year six residential trip I was lucky enough to go to Stratford-upon-Avon (which is beautiful) to visit a few key Shakespeare places, and watch one of his plays at the Stratford Theatre. I was reminded of this a last year ago when I read Bill Bryson’s book on Shakespeare, which discussed a lot about him, some of which I knew some which was a complete surprise. However,  today I want to speak about Shakespare’s impact on storytelling.  

Julius Caesar by William Shakespear book Cover

If you have ever read any of Shakespeare’s longer plays you will have noticed that they have a plethora of battles, sex and comedy, the reason for this also explains why these plays have stood the test of time.  After a battle, sex or comedy Shakespeare would put the next key part of the plot.  Other playwrights of the time were not all as keen on this plan, but it is why Shakespeare was so successful.  Fighting, sex and comedy all get the attention of the audience, especailly the ‘groundlings’ who may have been raucous or bored during the performance this meant that they would still be paying attention when the next key plot point annoucned itself.  It also ensured that those who may have not been able to hear over the groundlings could hear due to the fact that the groundlings would have been pulled into the story once more. 

Now as I am writing this it seems a simple strategy, but It is also genius.  A lot of script writers and authors still follow this formule.  There is always some comedic relief (well in the books that I read) and often when there is a battle key plot points often follow.  I am pleased that a literary great, still have an impact on our story telling today. 

Hamleby Shakespeare Book cover

In addition to the above the vast majority of people know that Shakespeare had a massive impact on the English Language.  There is also the belief that there were additional works that he wrote on top of his 52 plays and 154 sonnets.  Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare also shared that we don’t actually know how Shakespeare wrote his name, and there are only 6 of his surviving signatures. 

If you are interested in Shakespeare’s life and death the Bill Bryson book I have shared up above is really interesting read (even for those who do not read a lot of non-fiction). If you do read it or know some interesting facts about Shakespeare please let me know.

For my next post normal service will be resumed of talking about and reading young adult books – I am aiming to publish a review of Cress book 3 of the Lunar Chronicles.

See you next time! 

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