Issue Date: 05/04/2016
Issue Name: William Shakespeares 400th Anniversary
Producer: Buckingham Covers
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. To celebrate one of the greatest playwrights ever, Royal Mail are producing 10 stamps which will feature a quote from some of his most famous plays and sonnets.
The quotes on these five stamps come from: Sonnet 30, Venus and Adonis, The Tempest, Macbeth, and Richard II.
English poet, playwright, and actor William Shakespeare, is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Often called England's national poet his works include approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems and other verses. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Little is known about Shakespeare’s private life. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, he married the 26 year old Anne Hathaway at the age of 18, with whom he had three children. He left few historical traces after the birth of his children until he is mentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592. Scholars refer to the years between 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare's "lost years".
In 1593 and 1594 the theatres were closed due to plague. By this time Shakespeare had written five or six plays and had a growing reputation. It is at this point that he published two narrative poems: Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, dedicating the works to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton.
Venus and Adonis is based on passages from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Ovid told of how Venus took the beautiful Adonis as her first mortal lover. Shakespeare developed this basic narrative into a poem of 1,194 lines. In Shakespeare’s verse though, Adonis refuses Venus's attentions. The idea of the heroine pursuing an evasive male was a theme he had already explored in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Themes of love and romance are central throughout Shakespeare’s work, most notably in comedies such as Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Nights Dream where love is often found through disguise or trickery, and tragedies like Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. After 1607, he wrote fewer plays, and none are attributed to him after 1613. Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, aged 52. Throughout 2016, a series of public performances, programmes, exhibitions and events in London and beyond, celebrate his work and mark the 400th anniversary of his death.
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David Edgar is a well kown British playwright with an impressive 60 plays to his name. He has been associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1976, becoming the Company's literary consultant from 1984 - 1988, he also became the Company's honorary associate artist in 1989. A truly great autograph to have on our beautiful Venus and Adonis cover.