1. Everyone – all levels of society – went to see Shakespeare’s plays. There weren’t many other forms of entertainment: no TV; no cable; no DVDs; no videos, hand-held electronic game players, or personal CD players; no CDs; no movies; and only the rudiments of a newspaper. People went to the bear-baiting or bull-baiting ring for a thrill, they went to a public execution or two – and they went to the theatre.
2. Shakespeare wrote his sonnets to be applauded and remembered as a writer. He wrote his plays to make money. And he made lots of it.
3. He wrote 37 plays, and some of them were real dogs.
4. Shakespeare’s wife was pregnant when they got married.
5. Shakespeare and his wife had three children before he left them all in Stratford-upon-Avon for the big-time, big-city life in London.
6. Shakespeare never went to college.
7. Reading Shakespeare is hard. Shakespeare’s plays were written to be performed – acted and seen on a stage. About half of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t even published until after his death.
8. In Shakespeare’s time, a woman’s value depended solely on who her husband was, and how valuable he was.
9. Experiencing a play in the Globe Theatre in 1603 was sort of a cross between going to an Oscar de la Hoya fight and an N Sync concert.
10. In Shakespeare’s plays, you can find drunks, ghosts, teenagers running away from home, boy who gets girl, boy who loses girl, king who loses everything, woman caressing her lover’s body that is minus its head, woman caressing her lover’s head that is minus its body, weddings and celebrations, and murder by stabbing, suffocation, poison, decapitation, and drowning in a vat of wine.