This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. While we don’t know the exact date of his birth, only the day he was baptised—26 April 1564—the 23rd has become a favoured date as Shakespeare died on this day in 1616. How’s that for tragic? Dare I say rather fitting for a writer whose most famous play (arguably) is a tragedy?
Today, we celebrate Shakespeare’s life and his work. Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to agree that his writings have stood the test of time. More than four centuries later, we still read and study his work. His plays are told and retold again. Always being reinterpreted. This must, surely, be the mark of a great writer. That even long after your death, your words are still read and cherished. Even once you are gone, they remain, still reaching new people all the time.
“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
Twelfth Night is my utmost favourite tale from Shakespeare, far surpassing the infamous tragedy most associate with the playwright. My sister—who is five years older than me—had it as a set piece at school. I was about ten, maybe eleven, when she had to read it as homework and for some odd reason asked if she could read it aloud to me. I believe it was a trick to help her understand and remember it better, if I recall correctly.
I loved it! The tale of Viola dressed as a man and falling in love, the comedy of errors that follow until the truth is revealed. It’s a fantastic piece and even at such a young age I listened with great interest as my sister read the words. Romeo and Juliet may forever be the most recognised of Shakespeare’s plays, but for me, it will always be Twelfth Night.