Saturday, 23 April 2016

Shakespeare Saturday: Happy Deathday, Mr Shakespeare

Today, Saturday 23rd April 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of the death of the English language's greatest ever playwright, William Shakespeare.

Google's Doodle of the day to mark the occasion
Google's Doodle of the day to mark the occasion
His impact on the English language, and indeed on our very culture (never mind tourism and the economy), is incalculable. For example, did you know that the Bard has been credited with introducing some 3,000 words into the English language? Or that at 27 letters 'honorificabilitudinitatibus' is the longest word in any of Shakespeare's works and is the longest word in the English language with alternating consonants and vowels? (It appears in Love's Labours Lost and means 'the state of being able to achieve honours'.)

And did you know that Hamlet (Shakespeare’s longest play which, uncut, would take between 4 and 5 hours to perform, with the death-obsessed Prince of Denmark himself having the most lines of any character in Shakespeare, with 1530 in total) is the most widely performed play in the world? It is estimated that it is being performed somewhere every single minute of every day.

From a very personal point of view, Shakespeare has had been a massive influence on my own work - and that was before I came up with the concept of Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu.
Like many people, I first encountered Shakespeare whilst at school, reading Lamb's Tales From Shakespeare before studying plays such as MacbethThe Tempest and Hamlet for GCSE and A-level. Later I went to university in Shakespeare's own county of Warwickshire.
My very first published book, the Fighting Fantasy adventure Spellbreaker, was heavily influenced by Macbeth, making, as it does, witches the main focus of the story. (The Bedlam Hags in particular are my take on Macbeth's Weird Sisters.)
My second book, Knights of Doom, used the driven war-hero-who-would-be-king, his fiend-like queen, and their castle home. There's even a very unsubtle reference to Banquo's ghost, in the form of Sir Connor of Achenbury.
Bloodbones (which is now available as an app from Tin Man Games, with its own soundtrack and everything!) was inspired, in part, by The Tempest, and features encounters with a monster called Balinac as well as a wizard's cell on a secluded, semi-magical island.
Night of the Necromancer drew heavily on both Hamlet and Macbeth for inspiration, the castle you explore during the adventure being name Valsinore, and includes an encounter with your own ghostly father.
So tonight I'll be raising a glass to the Bard of Stratford whilst also battling with the running order of Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu.

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”  ― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” ― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

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