William Shakespeare, the world's most performed playwright, was born in April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, about 100 miles northwest of London. As with most sixteenth-century births, the actual day is not recorded, but according to the records of Stratford's Holy Trinity Church, he was baptized on April 26. Since it was customary to baptize infants within days of their birth, and because Shakespeare died 52 years later on April 23, it has become traditional to call April 23 his birthday. Happy Birthday to the Bard of Avon!
Absolute Shakespeare is a terrific first stop in our online tour. In addition to a complete library of Shakespeare's work, Absolute houses summaries (recommended reading before attacking the original texts) and famous quotes organized by work: "To be, or not to be: that is the question" Hamlet, Act III, Scene I. Best of all, there's a glossary that "explains the meanings of the words the Bard uses that are not in common use today."
The Internet Public Library is another site where you'll find the complete text of all Shakespeare's plays, so there's no need to panic when you've left your copy in your locker at school. Although the library actually consists of links to another site Bartleby.com. I liked the bookshelf metaphor of the IPL interface. Other reasons to visit are the links to scholarly criticism, a Shakespeare search function, and a single downloadable file of Shakespeare's complete body of work.
For scholarly research, or just plain fun, this well-organized site is a must for all Shakespeare fans. It includes both original content (such as a time line of Shakespeare's life) and annotated links to a wide assortment of external sites. These links range from the useful (online Shakespeare courses) to the bizarre (a Star Trek site which is offers Shakespeare in its "original Klingon form."). Want more? Visit the "five-diamond" recommendations listed under Best Sites.
Shakespeare Online is published by Amanda Mabillard, the About.com guide to Shakespeare and the two sites are intertwined. Unique features include a forum for asking questions, a weekly Shakespeare newsletter, an extensive FAQ organized by play, and eight interactive quizzes. The site also has a biography, plot summaries, a glossary, and a very long links page.
"Many of my students have asked me if people really spoke the way they do in Shakespeare's plays. The answer is no. Shakespeare wrote the way he did for poetic and dramatic purposes." Teacher Amy Ulen explains how to make sense of Shakespeare's sometimes confusing words in Shakespeare 101: A Student Guide. Don't miss it! The rest of her "Shakespeare classroom on the Internet" is divided into zones for teachers, plays, discussion and fun.