14th-20th March is Shakespeare Week, a nationwide celebration designed to introduce Primary age pupils to the Bard and his prolific literary output. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is coordinating the festivities, overseeing events across the country and providing great online resources for Teachers and anyone else interested in engaging young people with one of our Nation’s greatest playwrights.
Here are a few facts about Shakespeare that you might not know…
- Shakespeare is most often referred to as an Elizabethan playwright, but as most of his most popular plays were written after Elizabeth’s death he was actually more of a Jacobean writer. His later plays also show the distinct characteristics of Jacobean drama.
- Shakespeare has been credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with introducing almost 3,000 words to the English language. Estimations of his vocabulary range from 17,000 to a dizzying 29,000 words – at least double the number of words used by the average conversationalist.
- Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. In none of them does he spell his name in what has become the standard way. He spells it Shakespe; Shakspe; Shakspere and Shakespear
- An outbreak of the plague in Europe resulted in all London theatres being closed between 1592 and 1594. As there was no demand for plays during this time, Shakespeare began to write poetry, completing hisfirst batch of sonnets in 1593, aged 29.
Some other useful online resources related to Shakespeare:
- Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust : Here you can download the ‘Eye Shakespeare App’ and experience Stratford Upon-Avon from the classroom!
- The Royal Shakespeare Company: The RSC boasts an exciting array of fun and interactive resources that would be perfect for Shakespeare week.
- The Guardian Children’s Book Website has a great top 10 list of the best Shakespeare books for children.
- Shakespeare’s Globe has a wealth of resources including printed publications, actor interviews and a fact sheets about all things Shakespeare-related.
- TES has an abundance of help available for those teaching Shakespeare.
We’ve also put together a list of books you may want to take a look at for further inspiration and to use in the classroom. We have all of these in our office, so get in touch if you’d like to borrow them for your Norfolk school!
- William Shakespeare; a Very Peculiar History with Added Soliloquies by Jacqueline Morley and David Salariya
Small format hardback in faux old-fashioned style.
- King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
An old favourite. Time-slip novel in which an American boy visiting the modern Globe, is transported back to the newly built original theatre, and acts for Shakespeare and his company. Vivid and a great read.
- Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield and illustrated by Michael Foreman
Classic retellings in story format, with lovely colour and black and white illustrations.
- As You Like It (and others) by Andrew Matthews and illustrated by Tony Ross
Simple retellings, about 55 pages each, of individual plays
- Shakespeare’s Birthplace by Jane Shuter
In ‘Visiting the Past’ series, looks at Tudor life as seen from Shakespeare’s home in Stratford.
- Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare! by Marcia Williams
7 fun retellings of plays, with brilliant illustrations to captivate!
- Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Rosen asks what makes Shakespeare special, and this beautifully illustrated book looks at his legacy and life.
- Kingfisher Treasury of Shakespeare’s Verse, selected by Gina Pollinger, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark
A lovely anthology
- William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki
An unusual approach which takes us all the way from Shakespeare himself, via the Jacobean playwrights, and up to Wanamaker’s ambition to rebuild the Globe – in 5 acts.
- The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard by Gregory Rogers
A wordless comic strip picture book, involving a (bear) chase, a crime, a queen and a small boy.
(You can find our previous Theme Thursday posts here)