Today is Shakespeare Day.
Today we celebrate the genius that William Shakespeare.
While his physical remains have long since returned to the earth, his plays live on.
Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth are part of the curriculum for millions of students around the world.
Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming Off The Shrew, Anthony and Cleopatra and A Mid Summer Nights Dream had been re imaged on stage and on screen many times over.
Single lines from his plays and sonnets have become part of our popular culture. He invented names that new parents still use the name their children.
Happy Birthday Master Shakespeare.
With any legend, especially one like William Shakespeare, there is often more myth and fiction than historical documented fact. With that myth and fiction, modern writers can delve into the what ifs of that person’s life and add new experiences that may or may not have happened.
Andrea Chapin’s new book, The Tutor, introduces the reader to Katharine de L’Isle, a woman who would briefly occupy a place in Master Shakespeare’s heart. Orphaned as a young girl by a fire that killed her parents and siblings, Katharine was raised in the household of her uncle, Sir Edward. At the age of 18, she married her much older husband whose own children were older than she. Two years into the marriage, Katharine was widowed and returned to her uncle’s house. Presently at the age of 31, she has turned down several marriage proposals and is content to be a second mother to her young cousins.
But there is danger afoot. Katharine and her family are Catholic. In Elizabethan England, being Catholic was dangerous. To save his life, Sir Edward leaves England for the continent after the murder of the family priest. Then William Shakespeare enters Katharine’s life. Master Shakespeare has entered the household as the tutor of Katharine’s young cousins. Flirty, intelligent and with a quick tongue, Katharine initially wants nothing to do with the new tutor. But hate soon turns to something else, as soon as she begins to read his stories and his poetry.
I was intrigued by the concept of this book. Unlike many women of her era, Katharine is educated, intelligent and not shy about sharing her opinions. A student of Shakespeare might be able to read into this character (if she were real and not fiction), that she might have been the inspiration for Katherina (Taming Of The Shrew), Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing) or another of the feisty, intelligent women that dominate Shakespeare’s plays. The middle of the book lagged on for me a little too much, but by the end, I was a satisfied reader.
I recommend this book.
Yesterday was Charlotte Bronte’s Birthday. Tomorrow is William Shakespeare’s Birthday.
I have nothing but thanks and admiration for these amazing writers. They continue to inspire generations of writers. Many a teenager, whether or not they appreciate the work that is in front of them, has read both as part of their high school English curriculum.
Their works are absolute classics, told, retold and reinterpreted. Despite being set in very specific time periods, there is a human aspect to their writing, which continues to bring in new generations of readers.
The best writing shows the good and bad in us. The best writing shows that despite the extreme advances of science and technology, human beings are still the same.
I raise my glass to you, Master Shakespeare and Miss Bronte. Your earthly remains may be long gone, but your work will love for eternity.