Saturday, April 23, marks the officially recognized 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616. Students, faculty and staff are invited to celebrate from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, April 22, on the Quad with birthday and death-day cakes, a Shakespeare selfie-station, and interactive exhibits that highlight Shakespeare’s contributions to literature and culture.
In honor of the 400th anniversary, The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., presents “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” The national traveling exhibition is coming to Boise Aug. 20-Sept. 21.
Published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the First Folio was the first collected edition of his plays. It contains 36 of the 38 surviving scripts, including 18 works that were previously unpublished and would likely have been lost without the Folio. This includes titles like “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar” and “Twelfth Night.” Shakespeare’s First Folio will be on display in the Arts and Humanities Institute Gallery in the Yanke Family Research Center.
Though there is no definitive record of Shakespeare’s birth, his baptism was recorded in the register of Holy Trinity parish church in Stratford on April 26, 1564. Based on Elizabethan traditions, scholars suggest that this indicates he was born on April 23. There is also no definitive record of his death, but he was buried at Holy Trinity church April 25, 1616, and scholars generally accept that he died on his 52nd birthday on April 23. The cause of his death is not known. His will was drawn only one month before his death so some speculate that he was ill at the time, but others turn to the word of vicar John Ward who in 1666 wrote in his diary that The Bard succumbed to a sudden fever after a night of heavy drinking. Shakespeare had been retired for several years at the time of his death. His last work is believed to be “The Two Noble Kinsmen,” a collaboration with John Fletcher in 1613.