William Shakespeare is considered to be the most important figure in English literature. To remember Shakespeare’s life, which ended in 1616, the year 2016 has been dedicated to him with numerous presentations, plays, lectures, festivals, etc. organized and performed worldwide. The text below contains some basic facts about the Bard’s life and work, along with some of his most popular quotes which had not only become the literatures’s most famous lines but also catch phrases in modern English and widely recognized pearls of wisdom.



William Shakespeare


poet, playwright


April 23, 1564


April 23, 1616


Stratford- upon- Avon, UK


King’s New School


Wife Anne Hathaway

Children – daughter Susanna; twins Hamnet and Judith


Bard of Avon

Swan of Avon

The Bard


Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Romeo and Juliet

Othello, the Moor of Venice


King Lear

Julius Caesar

As You Like It

The Merchant of Venice

Measure for Measure

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Much Ado About Nothing

The Taming of the Shrew

The Tempest

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will

The Merry Wives of Windsor


Richard II

Richard III

Henry IV

Henry V

Henry VI

Henry VIII

Titus Andronicus

Antony and Cleopatra

The Comedy of Errors

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Love’s Labour’s Lost

King John

Trolius and Cressida

All’s Well That Ends Well


Timon of Athens


The Winter’s Tale



Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

“To be, or not to be,- that is the question:-” (Act III, Scene I)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be: /For loan oft loses both itself and friend;/ And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” (Act I, Scene III)

“This above all,- to thine own self be true;” (Act I, Scene III)

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (Act III, Scene II)

Romeo and Juliet

“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” (Act II, Scene I)

“…, tempt not a desperate man;” (Act V, Scene III)


Othello, the Moor of  Venice

“But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve/For daws to peck at:” (Act I, Scene I)

“‘T is neither here not there.” (Act IV, Scene III)

King Lear

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is/ To have a thankless child!” (Act I, Scene IV)

“Have more than thou showest,/ Speak less than thou knowest,/ Lend less than thou owest,” (Act I, Scene IV)

4 5


“…: what’s done is done.” (Act III, Scene II)

“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will/ rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine, /Making the green one red.”(Act II, Scene II)

Julius Caesar

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; /I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” (Act III, Scene II)

“but, for my own part, it was Greek to me.” (Act I, Scene II)

“… a dish fit for the gods,” (Act II, Scene I)

“beware the ides of March.” (Act I, Scene II)

“Et tu, Brute?” (Act III, Scene I)

“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:/ Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.” (Act III, Scene II)

As You Like It

“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.” (Act II, Scene VII)

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” (Act V, Scene I)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“The course of true love never did run smooth;” (Act I, Scene I)

The Tempest

“We are such stuff/ as dreams are made on; and our little life/ is rounded with a little sleep.” (Act IV, Scene I)

The Merchant of Venice

“But love is blind, and lovers cannnnot see” (Act II, Scene V)

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” (Act III, Scene I)


Measure for Measure

“Our doubts are our traitors,/ And make us lose the good we oft might win/ By fearing to attempt.” (Act I, Scene IV)

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;” (Act II, Scene I)

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will

“but/ be not afraid of greatness: some are born great,/ some achieve greatness, and some have greatness/ thrust upon ’em.” (Act II, Scene V)

The Merry Wives of Windsor

“; better three hours too soon than a minute too/ late,” (Act II, Scene II)


“-The game is up.” (Act III, Scene III)

King Richard the Third

“Now is the winter of our discontent.” (Act I, Scene I)

“A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” (Act V, Scene IV)

“So wise so young, they say, do never live long.” (Act III, Scene I)


Quotations taken from: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Wordsworth Editions Limited, Ware, Hertfordshire, 1996.

Sanja Bura, September 2016