Welcome to the Groundling’s Guide to Shakespeare

Welcome to the first blog post of the Groundling’s Guide to Shakespeare. I am launching this site on April 23, the day we celebrate the birth of the beloved poet! My hope is that this site will your muse on fire, your light as you begin the journey of discovery. Here you will find book reviews, essays, ideas, and posts; each designed to help you discover the world of Shakespeare and why he still matters today.

How about we start with 7 things you may not know about Shakespeare?

We probably don’t spell Shakespeare’s name correctly—but, then again, neither did he
Sources from William Shakespeare’s lifetime spell his last name in more than 80 different ways, ranging from “Shappere” to “Shaxberd.

Shakespeare’s epitaph wards off would-be grave robbers with a curse

“To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, / And cursed be he that moves my bones.” It must have worked. Shakespeare’s remains have yet to be disturbed.

Google must love him

There are 157 million pages referring to him. God has only 132 million.

These seats better be comfortable.

The longest play in the Shakespeare cannon is Hamlet. With no cuts to the play, it takes over four hours to perform. His shortest play, The Comedy of Errors, takes a third of that time.

Even NASA loves Shakespeare

While I cannot find the original source, or who started the trend, all of Uranus’ moon are named after Shakespeare’s characters (except two that are named after characters in Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock). Shakespeare’s characters are:

  • Ophelia,
  • Bianca,
  • Cressida,
  • Desdemona,
  • Juliet,
  • Portia,
  • Rosalind,
  • Cupid,
  • Belinda,
  • Perdita,
  • Puck,
  • Mab,
  • Miranda,
  • Ariel,
  • Umbriel,
  • Titania,
  • Oberon,
  • Francisco,
  • Caliban,
  • Stephano,
  • Trinculo,
  • Sycorax,
  • Margaret,
  • Prospero,
  • Setebos,
  • Ferdinand.

Words, words words

Shakespeare is credited with invented 1700 words. (though it may be that this is the first time we have seen them in print).Shakespeare has been credited for inventing single words that normally would have taken several to mean the same thing. I won’t list them all, but here is a partial list of words we use today:

  • auspicious
  • baseless
  • bloody
  • castigate
  • control (noun)
  • countless
  • courtship
  • critic
  • critical
  • dishearten
  • dislocate
  • dwindle
  • eventful
  • exposure
  • fitful
  • frugal
  • generous
  • gloomy
  • gnarled
  • hurry
  • impartial
  • lapse
  • laughable
  • misplaced
  • monumental
  • obscene

Now here is a reason to learn Klingon

Of all of the languages that Shakespeare’s work has been translated to, Klingon is my favorite. Both Hamlet and Much ado about nothing have been translated as part of the “Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project”. Who said aliens don’t appreciate culture? Don’t believe me? See for yourself. I give you, “To be or not to be” in Klingon.

4 Replies to “Welcome to the Groundling’s Guide to Shakespeare”

  1. The Klingon soliloquy: for this relief, much thanks. And congrats on the first post (which I believe you’ve already trailed) — I look forward to many more informative, entertaining and maybe even polemical posts! 😊

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  2. The naming of Uranus’s moons was a family affair, specifically the Herschel family. William discovered the planet, and two of its moons. His son John, also an astronomer, gave the Shakespearean names to the four moons that had been discovered up to his day, and those names stuck.

    There was no official system of naming moons in those days, or planets for that matter. Usually the discoverer did the naming (same thing with elements), but William Herschel’s suggestion for Uranus (he named it in Latin after his patron, King George III of Great Britain) was not widely accepted. I have to wonder if his son’s suggestions were accepted as sort of a consolation prize for the family for losing out on the planet name.

    Incidentally, the other important astronomer of the family was Caroline, William’s sister. besides making some discoveries in her own right, it was only with her help that her brother and nephew managed to put together the first catalog of stars and nebulae in both the Northern and Southern celeestial hemispheres.

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