I’ve got a thing going on…with William Shakespeare.
Yes, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with the Bard recently. I’ve always had a special affinity for Will, but over the past six months it has become a more intimate relationship.
As in, I’ve been borrowing his words, his lines, even the superstitions surrounding at least one of his plays.
And, like people all over the world, I’m celebrating William Shakespeare this month. This Saturday it will be 400 years since he died—April 23, 1616.
My love for Shakespeare’s work led me to set my new cozy mystery series in a fictional American small town renowned for its Shakespeare Festival. I’m borrowing the Bard’s words for my titles, and am having a wonderful time weaving Shakespeare’s words and quite a bit of Bard trivia throughout the books.
But when I set out to write this series I had missed the fact that this month, the month the first two books in the Stratford Upon Avondale Mysteries were released, was also the month the world would be celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. So, I can’t help but celebrate along with the world. I mean, I’m taking my titles straight from him, I’m quoting his sonnets and plays in my books, I owe him a little celebration!
However, if I’m celebrating the great writer’s life because I’ve been quoting him left and right, then you, dear reader, should too. You quote him daily. Have you been feeling a little generous lately? Gone on a rant about something? Taken the kids out to watch for shooting stars? Are you fashionable, or maybe instead, frugal? Ever given into the green-eyed monster? Tempted to elbow your way to the front of the line at Starbucks? Have any misgivings about a decision you made? Written a love letter? There are hundreds of words and phrases Shakespeare added to our language. We don’t go a day without borrowing some of his words.
As a mystery writer, I’m also borrowing from some of the curses associated with Will. In the second book in my series, COME, BITTER POISON, the famous Macbeth curse plays a role. In researching it and its ‘remedies’, I knew my sleuth, Maggie O’Flynn, would have to have a little run-in with this curse and its ramifications. Ever since Macbeth’s opening night on August 7, 1606 when the young actor playing Lady Macbeth died backstage before the show, the play has been haunted by superstitions and rumors of curses. To this day, no one is to say the word Macbeth in a theater except during the performance or rehearsal, otherwise tragedy is supposed to befall someone associated with the speaker. The play may only be referred to as ‘the Scottish play,’ or ‘the Bard’s play.’ If someone does say Macbeth there are remedies that must be performed to ward off evil, as Maggie unfortunately discovers. The fact that the play contains scenes with witches performing curses and spells most likely led to the superstitions that plague the play to this day. Double, double toil and trouble…
There have certainly been no curses on William Shakespeare’s legacy. What is remarkable is that 400 years after Shakespeare’s death we are still enamored with the glorious words and turns of phrase he wrote. His plays are still produced the world over. Students still study his work. We still speak the words he coined. And a little-known mystery writer is using the words he wrote to title her books, and to flavor those books.
So as we celebrate William Shakespeare this month, let us raise a toast. “Heaven give you many, many merry days!” (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”
As You Like It