Christie’s Director of Books & Manuscripts Thomas Venning holding Shakespeare’s first folio
With April 23 marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, few will remember that his lasting fame almost did not happen. A brilliant post by the New York Times explains how that came about.
Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616 on his 52nd birthday. A celebrated writer and actor who had performed for Queen Elizabeth and King James, he wrote approximately 39 plays and composed five long poems and 154 sonnets. However, by the time of his death, he had retired and was considered past his prime.
By the 1620s, his plays were no longer being performed in theaters. On the day he died, no one — not even Shakespeare himself — believed that his works would last, that he was a genius or that future generations…
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