Shakespeare’s Birthday: This Week is the 456th Anniversary of the Bard
In celebration of this day, we look at the links between the Bard, the legal sector and Burnley law firm Real Legal.
William Shakespeare, the national poet of England, and perhaps the greatest Englishman ever to have lived, was born 1564, and died 52 years later on the same day: April 23rd – St. George’s day.
Much of Shakespeare’s work is concerned with justice, authority and the rule of law and one of his original performance spaces was at the Inns of Court in London which, to this day is the professional association of barristers. Real Legal’s Claire Stewart may have walked in the steps of Shakespeare himself, having studied law at the associated Inns of Court Law School.
What was Shakespeare’s greatest achievement? The psychological complexities of Hamlet? The dark madness of King Lear? The musical beauty of Twelfth Night?
At least one scholar has suggested that Shakespeare’s greatest achievement might have been that he survived childhood. He was born during a particularly nasty resurgence of the Bubonic Plague.
The parish records for Stratford-upon-Avon at the time show that infant mortality rate was extremely high. We know that he lost three sisters before they reached adulthood. But against all odds, Shakespeare survived.
As a young adult, he went to London in search of his fortune, and he found it. Within 10 years he’d gone from being a jobbing actor, struggling to make ends meet, to a successful businessman and dramatist with a royal charter. Love him or hate him, Shakespeare is the envy of the world and his legacy is incomparable.
Coming back to the modern day, with lockdown extended for another 3 weeks, St. George’s day and Shakespeare’s birthday will now have to be celebrated at home.
While we’re trying to get through our own global health crisis, we can draw comparisons between Shakespeare’s time and our own, and in some ways not much has changed.
Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare’s later plays. It’s a play that was due to be performed at the Blackpool Grand last month by the Royal Shakespeare Company, but was sadly cancelled as all the theatres have now been closed (an event that also occurred several times in Shakespeare’s own lifetime).
Measure for Measure is a play concerned with the idea of Justice, and authority. Shakespeare was well aware that some members of his society did not have easy access to justice.
This is still a problem in today’s world. Just think about the recent high-profile law cases of wealthy businessmen, or public figures who might have once considered themselves above the law.
Measure for Measure tells the story of young lady faced with deep injustice at the hands of a ruling duke. At one point she exclaims “To whom should I complain? Who would believe me?”
Those words have as much power today as they did 400 years ago. There are still many people in the world who struggle for access to the justice they deserve.
If you’re one of them, why not contact Real Legal? They are a friendly, local law firm, with reasonable prices and expert staff.