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Marking the 450th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s Birth

For more photos from the sites of William’s Shakespeare life, explore the Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Globe Theater and Shakespeare’s Grave location pages.

Every year at the end of April, a celebration of the life and works of the great playwright William Shakespeare takes place in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare was born there in 1564 and cultural celebrations in Stratford’s streets, with entertainers, street performers and traditional Morris dancers, go back hundreds of years.

From his plays to his sonnets, Shakespeare’s extensive works have produced a legacy of characters, ideas, histories and, of course, words—it is thought he contributed more than 2,000 to the English language. His plays are a staple on many school curriculums, and continue to be reinterpreted on stage, rewritten in fiction and retold on screen.

The man himself is still very much a mystery and few details exist about his private life. Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway with whom he bore three children, before relocating to London to pursue his acting and writing career. He died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616—a date which fell very near to his birthday in the same month (the exact date is unknown).

This year marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and, on Saturday, a special procession will take place in Stratford, ending with celebrants laying flowers on Shakespeare’s grave in the Holy Trinity Church. The world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company will also host a full program of shows.

I visited this place in 10th grade when my high school marching band played The Lord Minister’s New Years Day Parade.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 19-28) by William Shakespeare