|His real birthday? |
Nobody knows Shakespeare’s true birthday. By tradition and guesswork, William is assumed to have been born on April the 23rd, a date now commonly used to celebrate the famous Bard's birthday.
William was born to a Stratford tanner named John Shakespeare. His mother Mary was the daughter of a wealthy gentleman-farmer named Robert Arden.
The birthday of the most famous playwright in the world has always been marked in Stratford with some serious partying and fun, with lots going on for all the family.
It seems entirely appropriate for us to celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday on the same day as our patron saint’s day - St.George's Day.
As the 23rd April falls on a Saturday this year, there’s even more of an excuse to get involved. It marks the 441st birthday of the man we affectionately call ‘The Bard’.
There have been celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon to mark the birthday of William Shakespeare as early as 1824. The annual festivities are now world-renowned, drawing visitors from near and far.
|Meet 'The Bard'|
The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations will take place on the weekend of Saturday 23rd April 2005. A wonderful weekend of events is planned. At the heart of the celebrations is the procession from the Birthplace to Holy Trinity, and the unfurling of the flags.
This year “Bardfest” returns for a second time - a competitive festival of the arts for children and young people. So does Shakespeare Live, the Street Theatre from local amateur dramatic groups. It is hoped that this entertainment will then continue on the Bancroft and this year will include a huge birthday cake made by Stratford’s Haviland’s, to be distributed amongst the crowd!
The RSC is having an amazing Open Day with several famous actors and actresses taking part in talks, workshops and a great big party. At the Open Day will be Patrick Stewart – aka Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise, Samantha Bond who played 007’s Miss Moneypenny, as well as Vanessa and Corin Redgrave. For more information about the Open day use the link on the top right of this page.
The writer and former BBC correspondent John Sergeant and actor and writer Michael Simkins will be the guest speakers at the annual Birthday Luncheon on Saturday 23rd April. John Sergeant will propose the toast to “The Immortal memory of William Shakespeare” while Michael Simkins will propose the toast to The Theatre. Both guests will also take part in the annual procession and flag ceremony in the morning.
From the strolling players and circus performers entertaining the crowds to the Shakespeare Morris Men and Children’s Country Dancing, the Band of the Royal Corps of Engineers and the Coventry Corps of Drums to the highlight of the weekend, the Procession and the unfurling of the flags and laying of floral tributes at Holy Trinity Church, it is a wonderful day of partying enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
|William Shakespeare |
Tradition has it that William Shakespeare was born on 23rd April, three days prior to his baptism recorded at Holy Trinity Church in 1564. The 23rd April is also the date of his death in Stratford aged 52. Shakespeare’s birthday was first celebrated in 1824 with a procession through the streets to Holy Trinity Church, a dinner and a few speeches.
Over the years the tradition has grown to include many of the unique features that are still integral to the celebrations today. In 1896 the American Ambassador was invited to Stratford-upon-Avon and so began the tradition that linked the celebrations with the Court of St James. To this day, the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations remain one of the few engagements for the Diplomatic corps outside London.