William Shakespeare is called The Bard and also The Bard of Avon, because he is considered to be the greatest poet that ever lived.
The word "bard" means poet. Bards were traveling poets in medieval times, who made a living performing and telling stories. Shakespeare's plays can be grouped into three categories:
Comedies - Well known comedies include: A Midsummer Nights Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It.
Tragedies - Some popular tragedies are: Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet.
Histories - Some of his best histories would be Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI.
One thing that set him apart from other playwrights was the way he would combine parts of all three categories, so his tragedies would have comic relief and comedies would have some serious parts. This was something that had not been done before that time.
Part of the genius that is Shakespeare was the fact that his work appealed to everyone, from kings to peasants. More than 400 years have passed since his birth, and his plays are still being read and performed all over the world.
There are some common themes in movies and television shows that were first used by Shakespeare, such as: in Romeo and Juliet, two young people fall in love, but are from feuding clans, or in The Taming of the Shrew, giving a person a taste of their own medicine. Mistaken identity (A Comedy of Errors) and being torn between loyalty and revenge (Hamlet) are two others.
Shakespeare had influence in shaping the English language more than anyone has ever done. Over 2000 new words and phrases were created by him, including: football, schoolboy, mimic, upstairs, downstairs, shooting star, and partner.
There are many famous quotes of Shakespeare that have lasted through time that most educated people know. These show how he is still influencing our lives today:
Most of Shakespeare's sonnets are constructed of three quatrains, or four-line stanzas, and end with a couplet (two lines). This makes up the 14-line sonnet.
The rhythm of each line is iambic pentameter. In English, to have a certain rhythm in a poem, you use a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. Iambic is two syllables; the first is not stressed, but the second is accented. Each set of two syllables is called a foot, and five feet make up a pentameter. So each line of a Shakespearean sonnet has ten syllables.
Besides being an actor and playwright, Shakespeare was also part-owner of a theatre company called Lord Chamberlain's Men. When the company's landlord, from whom they were leasing the land, wanted to tear down the theatre, they purchased land elsewhere and constructed the Globe Theatre. The Globe's first performance was in staged in 1599; with one of the first plays performed was Julius Caesar.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in April of 1564. His writing career was only 20 years long, and yet he wrote 37 plays, 154 sonnets and greatly influenced the world of literature.
He died at the age of 52 in 1616. He is called The Bard, because a bard is a poet, and The Bard of Avon, because of his birthplace.