One in three pupils do not know Shakespeare

Master: Words invented by Shakespeare include “bump”, “lonely” and “bedroom”.

Is Shakespeare relevant today? A new survey shows that one in three UK school students have never heard of the great playwright’s work. However, many say his plays will always be important.

What’s happening

William Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the history of England, if not the world, but perhaps he is no longer as famous as we assume.

Around 1,000 school students in the UK were given a list of famous names and asked to identify the playwrights. A huge 31% failed to pick out Shakespeare’s name.

Find out more

Shakespeare was born in 1564 when Elizabeth I was Queen.

When he moved to London, Shakespeare began acting in theatres. Soon, he started writing plays too, some of which were performed at the royal court in front of the Queen.

He wrote at least 37 plays and collaborated with other writers on a few more. One of his most famous works is Hamlet, in which the ghost of a murdered king tells his son to take revenge on his enemy.

Shakespeare’s plays deal with immortal feelings like love, jealousy and forgiveness. He also invented hundreds of new words.

Is Shakespeare still relevant today?

Some say…

His writing is too old to be important. It talks about old kings, fairies and ancient warriors — nothing to do with our lives now. Besides, the words he uses are old-fashioned and hard to understand. We can learn more by reading stories about today.

Others think…

Some things never get old. Even though the places in Shakespeare’s plays might feel far away, his plays are really about things we all go through, like falling in love or fighting with a friend. By reading Shakespeare, we can learn about ourselves.

You Decide

  1. Is it important to read books from long ago?


  1. Try to write your own play. Think of where you want the play to be set and who the main character will be. Why are they interesting? What do they want? Write your own script.

Some People Say...

“He was not of an age, but for all time!”

Ben Jonson

What do you think?

Word Watch

Expect to be true, without proof.
To find out or to know who someone is.
A person who writes plays.
To work on an activity or project together.
To hurt someone in return for something they have done to you.
Will never die.


PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.