“These violent delights have violent ends,And in their triumph die, like fire and powderWhich, as they kiss, consume.”
(Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI)
And so begins the second movie in the Twilight saga with these words from William Shakespeare. It was the reference to Shakespeare in the Twilight books that got my reluctant reader, dyslexic daughter interested in Shakespeare. She started with Romeo and Juliet, but has since read many of Shakespeare’s works.
Ten Quick Facts About Shakespeare
1. William Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon in England on April 26, 1564. His actual birthdate is not known, but is observed on April 23, which is interesting since he died on April 23, 1616.
2. The son of John and Mary Shakespeare, William had four sisters and three brothers.
3. At the age of 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant when they married.
4. William and Anne had three children together, but only one grandchild who died childless. Therefore, Shakespeare has no direct descendants.
5. Little is known about Shakespeare’s life between the years of 1585 and 1592, though rumors abound. Rumors include a flight from London to escape prosecution for poaching deer and a stint as a school teacher.
6. There is speculation that Shakespeare was Catholic at a time when Catholicism was illegal.
7. Shakespeare wrote 36 plays and several poems.
8. Women were not allowed to perform in plays during Shakespeare’s time, so the roles of women were often played by young boys.
9. Shakespeare was a wealthy man, who, in 1597, bought the second-largest house in Stratford.
10. Shakespeare’s oldest daughter and my oldest daughter share a birthday – a few hundred years apart.
I have to admit that I found Brianna’s interest in Shakespeare a bit intimidating. Though his plays are probably some of the most highly studied works of literature around, I managed to make it through high school without ever reading a single Shakespeare play. My knowledge of Shakespeare was limited to giggled accounts of one of our high school’s most eccentric teachers reading, “Out, damn’d spot!” related by friends who did take our high school’s one Shakespeare course.
Hey, a teacher using profanity in class was big news back then.
Oh, and I do often quote, “Et tu, Brute?” when I feel betrayed, but I think that may have come from either a history class or an excerpt in one of those “little bits of everything” readers we had in an English class.
Because of my perception of the difficult reading level of Shakespeare’s plays, I was thrilled to discover the No Fear Shakespeare books. These fabulous books feature the original text on one page, with the modern translation on the facing page, along with helpful commentary. We immediately snapped up Romeo and Juliet when Brianna wanted to read it, and soon added several other titles to our collection, such as Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice (which, incidentally, was the book in which Alice left a message for Bella in Breaking Dawn. Just in case you wondered.)
I asked Brianna once how she read the No Fear Shakespeare books, thinking that, if it were me, I’d read the original first, then check my interpretation on the facing page. It had occurred to me that she might just be reading the translation, which wouldn’t be as rich a reading experience, in my mind.
Nope. She told me that she reads the original text and only refers to the translation if she gets stumped on the meaning of the original. That made me smile. She’s my right-brained, artsy, creative kid who really enjoys reading Shakespeare. I love that about her.
Have you or your kids ever read any of the No Fear Shakespeare books? Do you enjoy them as much as we do? I just found out that they also offer The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer in a No Fear version, too. That’s on Brianna’s to-be-read list.
Shakespeare facts source: Wikipedia
This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday.
I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it, but we already owned several copies and already thought they were awesome. I received no other compensation for this review, but jumped at the chance to add some new titles to our collection. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.