There is no doubt that when it comes to the arts, specifically drama, few have been as influential as the infamous Tudor era playwright, William Shakespeare. It’s a name that has become known the world over for his impressive array of work, from his moving sonnets, to his historic pieces, to his celebrated comedies and then of course his epic tragedies. His works are still revered and taught in schools, it’s easy to forget what a humongous feat that is considering they are over four hundred years old. People still go and see his plays today and though we can see modernised versions more often than not they are performed using his scripts and his stage directions. Further art, books, even movies have been inspired by his works. He took inspiration for his tales from all over the world, from London to Egypt though nowhere can we get a better sense of what made Shakespeare the man we are taught about today than at the town in which he was born and bred, Stratford upon Avon. Here you can still see and learn about the many places that created the man and all are certainly worth a visit.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace – The first and most notable of the places you can visit here is the man’s childhood and family home now simple known as ‘Shakespeare’s Birthplace’. Stratford upon Avon isn’t a large town so you’ll find most of the significant places in the centre. This 16th Century half timbered home is the same, situated amongst many shops and cafés, it isn’t hard to miss. You enter a separate building to the home itself, here there is a small museum that is a perfect introduction not just to the topic of Shakespeare but also all the places you can visit in the town. You’ll learn all about his works and influence over much of comment entertainment today, things like popular music, films, even The Simpsons. You’ll also cover some basic info about his plays and his additions to the common phrases we use today.
Once you leave the initial introductory museum, you’ll enter the courtyard of the old house complete with gardens, gifted statues and an ancient tree that would likely have stood there long before Will arrived. In the centre there are often bards and performers that’ll play you songs or perform sonnets from Shakespeare’s works, you can request your favourite or for those who are relatively new to the topic you could ask for theirs. What’s so great about museums organised by or affiliated with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is that the guides and staff really do know their stuff and are more than happy to share their passion for the history with you, in fact I’d go as far to say they are some of the best guides I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. This becomes even more evident once you step through the modest side door into the first home Shakespeare ever knew.