UCL News


UCL in the News: Is tomorrow Shakespeare's birthday?

21 April 2007

Tomorrow could be the day to blow out the 443 candles on William Shakespeare's birthday cake - not St George's Day on Monday, which has been celebrated for centuries as both the birth and death date of England's greatest playwright.

Professor René Weis [UCL English Language & Literature], the author of a new biography of Shakespeare, is convinced that the playwright was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 22 1564 - not the 23rd, the date always celebrated as his birthday. …

"I have found evidence that his family regarded April 22 as a special day," Professor Weis said. …

Shakespeare's grandchild Elizabeth, who knew him well, shared his last home and received a bequest in his will, chose to marry on April 22 1626, 10 years after his death. If Shakespeare had been born on St George's Day, Professor Weis suggests, Elizabeth would surely have chosen to marry on that date. And when she became ill after visiting London she returned home on the 22nd - hurrying back, he believes, for the birthday celebration. …

Maev Kennedy, 'The Guardian'