“There was a star danced, and under that was I born.”

“All of a sudden,” “heart’s content,” “as dead as a doornail,” “night owl,” “it was Greek to me,” “foul play,” “the game is up,” “method in my madness,” and “truth will out.”
The man himself - bust inside the home
The man himself – bust inside the home

We owe all of these phrases and many more to William Shakespeare, the greatest English writer and playwright of all time. He was born and died in Stratford-upon-Avon, a village north of London. His career as a player (actor) and playwright really bloomed in London, so I’ve always associated Stratford with his family life.

The exterior of Shakespeare's birthplace.
The exterior of Shakespeare’s birthplace.

He married Anne Hathaway when he was 18 – she was 26 and “three months gone” with his first daughter Susanna. The twins Hamlet and Judith followed a few years later. If you visit Stratford, you can see the home where Shakespeare was born, spent his early life and began his married life. He is buried in Stratford among his family.

The Avon River
The Avon River
There were several actors playing scenes on demand at the house.
There were several actors playing scenes on demand at the house.

Stratford itself is a fun little village. The Avon River runs through, next to the Royal Shakespeare Company. There was a Food Festival in town the day I was there, so there was great live music and vendors along the village center.

One of the streets in Stratford - they all have this beautiful Tudor architecture and windy quality.
One of the streets in Stratford – they all have this beautiful Tudor architecture and windy quality.

I had a great capsule moment there: I’d picked up a roast-beef-bacon-veg-bolognese-bap from a vendor and ate it sitting on the low wall in front of Shakespeare’s house. I was surrounded by English lavender while listening to actors perform scenes from Much Ado About Nothing in the house compound, inadvertently accompanied by street performers playing classical music. If that doesn’t sum up Stratford-upon-Avon, nothing really will.

Shakespeare's image is all over town, but this one in particular caught my eye.
Shakespeare’s image is all over town, but this one in particular caught my eye.
Title quote: William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Shakespeare statue along the Avon River. The statue is surrounded by four of his most famous characters.
Shakespeare statue along the Avon River. The statue is surrounded by four of his most famous characters.
Falstaff - the lovable oaf who turns up in both Henry IV plays and Merry Wives of Windsor
Falstaff – the lovable oaf who turns up in both Henry IV plays and Merry Wives of Windsor
Prince Hal, from Henry IV Parts 1 & 2
Prince Hal, from Henry IV Parts 1 & 2
Lady MacBeth, from MacBeth.
Lady MacBeth, from MacBeth.
Hamlet (the character, not Shakespeare's son), contemplating his existence.
Hamlet (the character, not Shakespeare’s son), contemplating his existence.

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