The Influence of Shakespeare
On this day 450 years ago, world-renowned playwright William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and would go on to become a true colossus in the world of literature, making a huge impact during his time. In honour of this day, it seems fitting to take a look at just how big of an impact Shakespeare has made, with his influence on the English language, writing and the greatest writers who were inspired by him.
The English Language
Of Shakespeare’s influences, the most cited and well known would be his influence on the English language itself, as it owes quite a debt to the works of Shakespeare. There are a plethora of different words and phrases which have been credited to him, with the first usage of them being in his writing.
Words such as ‘bloodstained’, ‘invulnerable’, ‘premeditated’, and ‘majestic’ have all been accredited to Shakespeare, as well as phrases such as ‘fight fire with fire’ and ‘make your hair stand on end’, which we use regularly to this day.
Here is a fantastic resource for the citations of the words which Shakespeare coined.
The World’s Finest Writers
Seeing as he has made such an impact on the literary world in a lingual sense, Shakespeare is certainly bound to have had an influence on the writing styles of the generations of writers which succeeded him, as well as some of the finest writers of those times.
A more literal example of his influence on a writer would be that of John Keats, a romantic poet from the late 1700s – early 1800s. He would keep a bust of Shakespeare next to him whilst he wrote, hoping that it would inspire creativity in his poetry, which itself resembled Shakespeare’s writing style and his imagery. He would also cite this inspiration in letters to fellow writers, bards and poets.
Other examples of writers who were heavily influenced by his work are Alexander Pope, Charles Dickens and Herman Melville; the latter has shown to have been greatly influenced by Shakespeare in his various works, such as the world famous Moby Dick.