400 Years Of William Shakespeare

Love him or hate him, but most of us have read or watched at least a little of the works by William Shakespeare. The English poet, actor, and playwright is often credited with being the greatest English-language writer of all time.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), despite having died 400 years ago, continues to be an influential literary figure. His work is required reading in high school and college, and countless plays, spinoffs, movies and other productions have kept his work alive hundreds of years after his death. It is nearly impossible to look over summer events in a community without finding at least one Shakespeare production.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare throughout 2016. The library’s “The Wonder of Will” includes special events, performances and exhibitions.

Three exhibits are being offered this year at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The exhibits include:

  • “America’s Shakespeare”–From April 7–July 24 at the Folger, Shakespeare lovers can browse a collection of books, letters, costumes and more exploring the ways in which America has embraced Shakespeare.
  • “Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity”–Explores how William Shakespeare and Jane Austen have become household names thanks to spinoffs, parodies, merchandising and more over the past century.

The first published collection of Shakespeare’s works appeared two years after his death. The collection, which was published by two of his friends, was known as the “First Folio.” Only 233 copies of the “First Folio” exist in the world; the Folger owns 82 of those copies. Fortunately for Shakespeare fans, there is no need to travel to Washington, D.C. to see a copy of the “First Folio.” The Folger is sending an original 1623 “First Folio” on tour around the country this year.


Prefer to discuss Shakespeare on social media instead? The Folger is also spearheading an online campaign for 2016 as well. The “Share Your Shakespeare Story” project encourages fans to share their Shakespeare experiences through social media using the hashtag #MySHX400. Suggested topics for the digital project include “What does Shakespeare mean to you?” and “When did you first read or see Shakespeare?”

The trick with the #MySHX400 project may be finding quotes to share that are less than 140 characters.

About The Folger

The Folger Shakespeare Library claims to be the largest collection in the world. Millions of people explore Shakespeare through Folger’s resources online and in person each year.


What are some of your memorable experiences with Shakespeare (good or bad)? Are you planning to attend any Shakespeare events or productions this year?

Additional Image: The Poetics Project



Robert Witham
Robert Witham
A freelance writer and journalist, I am also a wandering minimalist. I never sit still for too long in one place. When I am not writing I can be found reading, enjoying a good cup of coffee, hiking, fishing, installing a new OS on my laptop, or building a website.