A man named William Shakespeare died 400 years ago - and this is probably the most certain fact we know about him. We don’t know the story behind his haste marriage at the age of 18 to 26-year-old Anne Hathaway. Did he love her? Or maybe another woman named Whateley, but was forced by Hathaway’s family to marry Anne, whom he had already made pregnant? And was bequesting his "second-best-bed" to his wife an expression of long-lasting love or evidence of her adultery? Why did he die a month after writing his last will, aged 52, despite being "in good health" while writing it? And most of all: DID HE REALLY WRITE ALL THESE PLAYS AND POEMS attributed to him?
There are many who doubt it. How could a man with no education write in such a perfect style, using such a wide range of vocabulary? How did he know intimate details about life in the king's courts, when he was completely unfamiliar with the court? A few legal documents signed by him that have survived to our time show the handwriting of a person who was barely literate. He left no diary, no private letters. Maybe the actor from Stratford was a front to shield the identity of the real author or even group of authors, who for unknown reasons preferred to remain in the shade?
Whoever wrote Shakespeare's plays and poems produced extremely strong memes of unique longevity. “Hamlet”, “Romeo and Juliet” and other works are not only classics acclaimed by scholars but fascinating stories still alive in culture and pop-culture, being endlessly adapted, filmed, interpreted and reinterpreted. Shakespeare’s works have been in print for ages, making him the absolute best-selling author in history (four billion copies!). But it was only at the beginning of the 19th century when Shakespeare was recognized as the world's greatest writer of all time. Although popular during his lifetime, he was regarded by his contemporaries and in the following century and a half as a good playwright and poet among many equally good others of his era.