A Shakespeare Challenge

Have you ever heard of Shakespeare Week?

What?  You haven’t?  Really?

Well, don’t worry; until this year, we hadn’t either.  Nobody had.  That’s because it’s a new celebration begun just this year by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  It was celebrated for the first time ever this past week, March 17-21, 2014, by 3,000 schools all over the U.K., and one school that we know of in the United States.   We are the one school!  We joined the festivities related to the Bard this past week, and we’re not done yet.  We’re going to keep going until we celebrate his 450th birthday, which is on April 23rd.


Shakespeare's Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon, England

 Photo Credit: floato via Compfight

In order to commemorate the life of the man who most influenced English literature, we have read Hamlet, watched video clips of the “To be or not to be” soliloquy (including a farce on Gilligan), created new words, hurled Shakespearean insults, studied the Bard’s biography, completed word games, memorized lines, and virtually visited Stratford-on-Avon.   On our last day of school before our Easter break, we plan to party hardy with the Bard, making his 450th birthday his best ever.

 …there was a star danced, and under that was I born. (Much Ado About Nothing, II,i, 335)

In honor of this event, we’d like to Skype another class for our first annual Shakespeare Challenge game.  We’ll ask your class questions, and you ask us.  The winner gets a prize.

Do you dare to accept our challenge?

Mercutio: A challenge, on my life.

Benvolio: Romeo will answer it.

Mercutio: Any man that can write may answer a letter.

Benvolio: Nay, he will answer the letter’s master, how he dares, being dared.

                                                                                                  Romeo and Juliet   II, iv, 8-12

Answer our post with a comment letting us know if you are up to a challenge on April 16th, sometime between 9 and 11 am, Eastern Standard Time.

Until then, visit some of our Shakespeare posts from April 2013 or try some of the sites above.

What did you learn about our friend Will Shakespeare?


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53 thoughts on “A Shakespeare Challenge

  1. Shakespeare’s wife never went to London, even though Shakespeare was there most of his adulthood.

  2. Hi Mrs. Donofrio its Daniel
    I found out some facts that I didn’t know about Shakespeare.
    1. Shakespeare Wrote 154 sonnets
    2. Shakespeare May have translated Psalm 46
    Do you know any facts about Shakespeare that most people don’t know?

    • Hi Daniel,
      Most of the facts I know about Shakespeare I try to share with all of you, so I don’t have a lot of information about him that you don’t know now, too. I know that Shakespeare acted in a lot of his own plays; he played the ghost of Hamlet in Hamlet.
      That’s it for now!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  3. Shakespeare used the word dog or dogs over 200 times in his work, Shakespeare only left a bed for his wife when he died

  4. Hello Ms. Donofrio,

    Did you know that Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets?
    That, in my opinion, is a lot!
    I also learned that his shortest play is 1170 lines.
    I am not sure about you, but 1170 lines sounds like a lot.

    • Hi Ellie,
      I agree that 1170 lines sounds like a lot! Which play was his shortest? I know that Hamlet was his longest.
      Shakespeare is a prolific writer!!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  5. Hi Mrs.Donofrio,
    These are a few things I learned about Shakespeare:
    1. He was married at Temple Graston.
    2. The last play he wrote was Two Noble Kinsmen.
    3. He wrote his first play when he was 25 years old.
    Have you ever written a play? If so, what age were you when you wrote it?

  6. Hola Mrs. Donofrio,

    One thing I didn’t know about Willie Shaky was that his father John had many jobs. At a point in time his father got paid to drink beer! Good thing that is no longer an occupation! Did you know that?


    • Hi Mitch,
      I actually did know that Shakespeare’s dad was a beer taster. And you know what? I bet that is still an occupation. I bet that someone who works for a brewery has to taste the beer to make sure it is okay to sell. I think that there are people who taste wine for a living also, not only people who work for the winery, but people who work in the food industry who write reviews of wines or purchase wines for restaurants. There are a lot of different jobs in the world!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  7. Hi Mrs.Donofrio,
    I was doing some research about Shakespeare and I found out that a majority of his works were written after Queen Elizabeth I’s death. So technically he would not be called an Elizabethan writer but a Jacobean writer. Shakespeare also wrote a play called Cardino in the winter of 1612, but a printed version was never found. The Royal Shakespeare Company reconstructed Cardino as best as they could and got actors to preform it.

    • Thanks, Yovanna! You taught me two new things today! We will have to use these questions in our Shakespeare Challenge game!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  8. Howdy Mrs. Donofrio,
    Did you know that we probably don’t spell Shakespeare’s name right? But then again neither did he. Sources say that there are roughly around 80 different ways to spell his name, ranging from Shappere to Shaxbeard. They say out of his signatures the Bard never spelled his name “William Shakespeare”. I never had a clue. I thought we were spelling it right all along. Have you ever heard of this?

  9. Hi Mrs. Donofrio! Here is a list of new facts I did not know about The Bard.
    1.) William Arden was a relative to William Shakespeare on his mother’s side. William Arden was arrested for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I and was imprisoned in the Tower of London then executed.
    2.) Shakespeare wrote 37 play and 154 sonnets, but we know that already. On average he wrote 1.5 plays a year since 1589, which is when he started to write.
    3.) Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language. The first is pieces of the Bible.
    4.) Four hundred and fifty years after Shakespeare passing away, he now has the 157 million pages regarding him on Google. There are merely 132 million for God, 2.7 million for Elvis Presley, along with George W Bush with 14.7 million.
    5.) Shakespeare’s shortest play, The Comedy of Errors is simply just a third of the length Hamlet, his longest play.
    6.) All Uranus’ satellites are named after Shakespearean characters.
    7.) Shakespeare’s original grave had a picture of him holding a bag of grain (why?). The people of Stratford replaced the grain with a quill in 1747.
    8.) “William Shakespeare” can be rearranged into “I am a weakfish speller”, it’s called an anagram. How ironic!

    • I particularly like numbers 6, 7, and 8. Plus, I love that you used irony in your description. Look at Frankie’s and Louis’ comments about Shakespeare’s name in relation to your #8. Neat, huh? He was a weakish speller. (Guess what I just found out? Auto-correct turns “weakish” into “weakfish”- so you are NOT a weakish speller! But Shakespeare, alas, is.) Do you think he would spell better in another age when spelling had become more standardized?
      Good question about the bag of grain. Also, I guess it was okay to disturb the picture as long as the people in Stratford didn’t disturb his bones.
      Do you know the names of Uranus’ moons?
      Thanks for a great comment, Audrey!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  10. Dear Mrs. Donofrio,
    I have learned that in Shakespeare Family Tree he had a descendant named Shakespeare Quiney who was Judith son. So that’s what I learned today and can’t wait to learn more.

  11. Hello Mrs. Donofrio!

    I learned a few things about Willy. One is that they say he was a fraud, we don’t pronounce his name correct but neither did he, and some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. In none of them he spells his name in what has become the standard way. He spells it Shakespe; Shakspe; Shakspere and Shakespear.

    Did you learn lots of new things?


    • I have learned a lot of new things reading the comments of you kids, Frankie. So I am enjoying this assignment! I have heard that Shakespeare spelled his name in lots of different ways. One that I can remember has an “x” in it, something like Shaxspear.
      Do you think we learned enough new things to beat another class at a Shakespeare Challenge?
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  12. Hey Mrs. Donofrio!

    I found that many scholars think that he actually wrote more plays than we know about. They say he wrote about 20 plays we do not know of. How do you think they could have found that information?


    • That’s a GREAT question, Mallory. Did they find pieces of plays? Do they have plays of unknown authorship but written in a similar style? Are there allusions to other plays written by Shakespeare but no record of the plays themselves? These are some guesses I have. Do you have any theories?
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  13. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,

    I learned that one of Shakespeare’s relatives on his mom’s side, who was named William Arden, was arrested for scheming against Queen Elizabeth I, jailed in the Tower of London and then executed. Did you know this?


    • No, I did not know this, John! Thank you for teaching me something new. I did know Will’s dad, John, got into some sort of financial/legal trouble and lost his job as town counselor, or something of the sort.
      It’s interesting that Elizabeth became such a strong supporter of Shakespeare after having had his relative executed. It’s hard to imagine these people as real human beings who walked the planet just as we do today.
      Thanks for helping me learn!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  14. Hello Mrs. Donofrio,
    I researched a few and these are a few interesting ones:
    1. One of Shakespeare’s relatives, William Arden, was arrested for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I!

    2. Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. This means he wrote an average of 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. While he was writing the plays he was also conducting a family life, a social life and he was, running an acting company and a theatre.

    3. Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language – after the various writers of the Bible.
    These are just a few of Shakespeare’s least known facts and there are so many more!
    Do you know any interesting facts about William Shakespeare?

  15. Dear Mrs.Donofrio
    I have learned many things about Shakespeare this week. One of the coolest is now I can quote Shakespeare : Neither a borrower nor lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry, this above all, be true to thine own self, it must follow as the night the day, thou can’st not then be false to every man. This was in Hamlet and means don’t give loans or borrow from other people. What’s your favorite play?

    • I’m so proud of you, Ben! Great job memorizing Polonius’ lines. Tomorrow you can recite them for the class. I can’t wait to see you act again, even if only for a few lines.
      My favorite play is Macbeth. Macbeth is such a complex character. The themes are so relevant to modern day life. Lady Macbeth is really intriguing. I love the language, too. It’s a great play.
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  16. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,
    I didn’t know Shakespeare only left his bed and its sheets to his wife. He left his house to Susanna. For a man who didn’t whittle well, I was surprised at what he left to Anne. However, it could have been an attempt to redeem himself from his whittling and to apologize to Susanna for their rashness. Why do you think he favored Susanna and almost ignored his wife?

    • Hi Maria,
      I have read that the best bed in the house was used in the guest room, and that the husband and wife had the second best bed; this would be why Shakespeare left the second best bed to his wife. It was their marriage bed. Also, it was law that the wife receive one-third of the marital assets, so Anne would receive one-third of Shakespeare’s property and money even without any will at all. However, he did not mention his wife in any type of affectionate way in his will, so it is a curious will. It is also a bit unusual, I think, for a man to live in a different city from his family for such a long time. Shakespeare is also rumored to have had a strong friendship in London with a woman referred to as the “Dark Lady” in his sonnets. Maybe he did feel some guilt over how he treated Susanna, but not as much guilt as to how he treated his wife. A lot has been written trying to figure out his personal life. It’s still a mystery, though! Perplexing and intriguing. Material for a good play, don’t you think?
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  17. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,
    One thing I learned about William Shakespeare sis that in his time people were not allowed to dress above their ranking. Like serfs had to dress like serfs if they had money to get higher clothes like priests and bishops they would get arrested . Everyone had to follow that rule except actors. It was the law. I’m glad I don’t have to do that now.

  18. hey Mrs.Donfrio

    here are some fact on Shakespeare
    1.he wrote 154 sonnets
    2.the last play he wrote was Two Noble Kinsmen
    3.15 of his plays had been preformed by 1597

    And here is a rumor I found about him, he was thought to copy many of his famous plays from other writers.

    • Hi Erik,
      I have heard that rumor about Shakespeare before, but I don’t believe it. No one knows with 100% certainty, of course, but I like to think, and will continue to think, that Shakespeare did it all himself.
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  19. Hey Mrs. Donofrio,
    It took me a pretty long time to find something because you have taught me so much. I found out that the last play William Shakespeare ever wrote was Two Noble Kinsmen.

  20. Good evening Mrs.Donofrio! I love learning about Shakespeare. I was very excited for finding some really cool facts about him that I did not know. Here are some facts I found.

    1)Six months after Shakespeare and Anne’s wedding they had their 1st child,Susanna.
    2)Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language after the Bible.
    3) Some of Shakespeare’s signatures have survived on original documents. None of them does he spell his name in the standard way we spell it today . He spells it like Shakespe; Shakspe; Shakspere and Shakespear.
    4)Shakespeares shortest play was “The Comedy Of Errors”
    5)All Uranus’ satellites are named after Shakespearean characters.

    I hoped you liked the 5 facts about Shakespeare! I did not know about these and I am very interested to find some more new facts! Bye!


  21. Hi Mrs.Donofrio,
    Did you know…
    1.Shakespears first play was Henry VI, part II.
    2.When Shakespear died he only left his wife a bed.
    3.He wrote his first play when he was 25 years old.
    4.His shortest play, The Comedy of Errors, was 1770 lines (and to me that is a lot).
    5.His collective sonnets were first published in 1609.
    6.He rote 154 sonnets and 37 plays.
    7.His last play he wrote was Two Noble Kinsmen.
    That is a ton of facts I learned about Shakespear. I also learned many others, from you of coarse that were even more interesting. Thank you for bringing Shakespear’s history into to my life. What do you think our lives would be like if William Shakespear was never born?

    • Hi Cooper,
      You found a ton of interesting information about Shakespeare! Thank you for sharing that with us!
      I think our lives would be a lot less interesting without Shakespeare. We wouldn’t be able to say that we were “in a pickle” or tell any “knock knock” jokes. We wouldn’t be able to “fight fire with fire” or say “good riddance” to the “green eyed monster”. Nothing would “make our hair stand on end” or “vanish into thin air”. We’d be a “sorry sight” without the Bard.
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  22. Hello Mrs.Donofrio,
    I learned that ten years he was in London were called the lost years. He was considerd to live in the English Renaissance. I learned that he went to King Edward vi. The school King Edward vi that he went to was a free charter school. That school must have tookhim very far because he is very famous. What is the most interesting fact that you about Shakespeare?

    • Hi Anthony,
      I think it is neat that Shakespeare signed his own name so many different ways! I also found it interesting that he was depicted at his tomb with a bag of grain and years later it was changed to a quill. Weird, huh?
      Happy Shakespeare Week!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  23. Hello Mrs. Donofrio
    1. Shakespeare’s nickname is the Bars which means master storyteller.
    2. He made 154 sonnets.
    3. He attended King Edward VI Charter School.
    4. Wrote 37 plays.
    5. One of Shakespeare’s relatives on his mother’s side, William Arden, was arrested for conspiring against Queen Elizabeth I, imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed.

    • Hello Jayen,
      Until yesterday, I did not know that William Arden was arrested for conspiracy against Queen Elizabeth I, but a few other kids found the secret out, so now I do know that fact. Look again at Shakespeare’s nickname. What do you think? On letter can make a big difference, yes?
      Good job on your homework today!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  24. Hey Mrs. Donofrio, its Matthew you asked me to write on what I learned about Shakespeare, so here is what I learned…

    * He was born on 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon.
    * Married Anne Hathaway and had three kids Susana, Hamnet, and Judith.
    * Worked at the Globe Theater.
    * Made up most of the words we have to day.
    * Went to King Edward the 6th school.
    * Studied Latin and old English.
    * Has no more living in his blood line.
    * Died on his birth day in 1656.
    * And was buried in Holy Trinity Church.
    * And more…

    Hope you like it and have a great day.

    P.S- Hope you hade a great Shakespeare week

    • Hi Matthew,
      I did have a great Shakespeare Week, and it’s not over yet! You did a nice job with your facts, but are a tad off on a few. Do you remember the years of his birth and death? I’ll give you a hint; this year marks his 450th birthday celebration. Did you use the links in the post to find new information about Shakespeare? Read some of the comments on this post and you will notice that some research has been done to find information we didn’t learn in class.
      Are you enjoying Shakespeare week?
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  25. Hey Mrs. Donofrio! Wow I learned so many new things about Shakespeare. He has three children. He wrote 37 plays and I have to say the ones that we’ve read so far a fabulous. I’ve also learned that you could get into the Globe Theater for one penny. Wow I wish that was true today. If it was possible, how much money would you pay to watch Shakespeare perform one of his plays live? Hope to blog you later!

  26. Hi Mrs. Donofrio! Here are some cool facts about Shakespeare that I never knew about.
    – One of Shakespeare’s relatives on his mother’s side, William Arden, was arrested for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and executed.
    – Shakespeare is the second most quoted writer in the English language after the writers of the Bible.
    – Suicide occurs thirteen times in Shakespeare’s plays.
    – Shakespeare’s original grave marker showed him holding a bag of grain. Citizens of Stratford replaced the bag with a quill in 1747.
    Those are some interesting facts about Shakespeare. What is the most interesting thing that you have learned about Shakespeare so far?

  27. I learned that William lived through the Black Death, and his play, the “Comedy of Errors,” is his shortest play, with only 1770 lines long. Also, he was a Roman Catholic, he invented the word ‘assassination’, and nobody knows how he died. Another thing I learned is that his first job was holding the horses of noblemen at theaters. DIA

    • Very interesting, Dia. I had no idea what his first job was. I like that it had something to do with the theater. Neat. I did know he was Roman Catholic, although I think somewhat secretly as England only allowed Protestantism (Anglican?) at that time. I read somewhere that he may have died from typhoid fever, but no one knows for sure. I don’t remember where I read that. Thanks for helping me learn something new about the Bard!
      ~Mrs. Donofrio

  28. Hi Mrs.Donofrio,

    One thing I learned about Shakespeare that you haven’t taught me yet is the last play he ever wrote was called “Two Noble Kinsmen”.

    ~ Brooke

  29. Hey Mrs. Donofrio,
    One fact that I learned about Shakespeare is that he is the second most quoted write ever. The first is from the Bible. It’s crazy to think that he was just a boy from Stratford-upon-Avon and now he is known worldwide! Why do you think Shakespeare was/is such a big attraction?

  30. Hi Mrs. Donofrio!
    Some new things that I recently found out about “The Bard” is that when he died, in his will he left for his daughter Susanna, his house and property, and and his only mention of his wife Anne Hathaway in his will was “I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furnature.” and by “furniture” he meant the bed skirt and pillows. I think that’s pretty funny how he gave Susanna a lot and Anne only a bed and accessories.
    Also I learned that Shakespeare is the second most quoted author in the world – after the various authors of the bible. Isn’t that sweet that he is almost as well known as the writers of the bible? I think so.
    The third and final thing I found out was that, Shakespeare wrote more plays then we all know about. It is certain that Shakespeare has written a play called, “Cardenio” which has been lost with about 20 other plays which we have never known about.
    Why do you think that Shakespeare wrote so many other plays but never published them or showed them to anyone?

  31. Hi Mrs. Donofrio,
    Did you know that Shakespeare’s dad (John) once had a job to drink beer. (Answer by: History Lists)

  32. Hi Mrs.Donofrio!
    Here are five things I know about Shakespeare that I haven’t learned yet:
    1) Scholars think that twenty of Shakespeare’s plays were lost and nobody knew about them.
    2) Abraham Linchon was a big fan of his plays
    3) Shakespeare’s birthday is on St. George’s day.
    4) He is the second most quoted writer in the English language.
    5) A play by Shakespeare called “Cardenio” was completely lost and no one ever found it.
    How long have you been studying Shakespeare?

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