Five things we learnt about the life and works of Shakespeare

Five things we learnt about the life and works of Shakespeare

Brian Osweta Otieno

Brian Osweta Otieno

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On Monday, 18 March Chevening Scholars visited Stratford-upon-Avon to learn about the life and works of renowned English writer William Shakespeare.

Below are five interesting things we learnt during the trip.

Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon

1) Love-life

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway (26) when he was 18, in 1582. It was in the house above where he first courted Anne. Anne was born in this house where she lived with her family.

Together they had three children: a son, Hamnet, who died in 1596; and two daughters, Susanna and Judith.

2) His works have been translated into Swahili and other African languages

Some of the works done by Shakespeare have been translated to Kiswahili which is a language spoken in east Africa. The books are: Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice and, first, Julius Caesar. 

The play was translated to Kiswahili by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who was the first President of Tanzania. He wanted to promote the use of Swahili in east Africa and therefore he tested this African language with the writings of the greatest exponent of creative writing that had been brought by colonialists.

Other African versions of the popular Julius Caesar include translations into several South African languages: Tsonga, Northern Sotho, Xhosa and Tshivenda.  

3) William Shakespeare has no surviving descendant

William Shakespeare only had one granddaughter Elizabeth, who was the daughter of Susanna. Elizabeth died childless in 1670 leaving Shakespeare without any descendant.

See photo below showing the family tree of William Shakespeare.

4) Shakespeare loved living in the country

Despite becoming a famous playwright in London where he used to work, he chose not to relocate, but to live in his hometown of Stratford where his wife and children were.  

The family home was called New Place. The house stood on the corner of Chapel Street and Chapel Lane, and was apparently the second largest house in the town. This was also where he was born.

Chevening Scholars posing outside Shakespeare’s family home.

5) Shakespearean insults are great

On a lighter note, this was the most interesting part of the trip. Shakespeare is well known for enriching English literature with his fantastic plays and sonnets, which are still relevant today.

However, he also contributed something else to the world – he coined and used some absolutely excellent insults throughout his work that will leave you in stitches.