Today is the day when we commemorate William Shakespeare's birthday. It's not actually certain that this is his actual birth date, but we do know baby Willie was baptized on April 26, 1564, so it has to be close. What we do know for sure is that the date of his death was April 23, 1616, but it's a little depressing to celebrate his passing, so let's just go with the birthday.
Some years ago, I spent a bit of time in England doing the tourist thing, and visited, among other places, the house in which Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-the-Avon. As well, I got to see Anne Hathaway's cottage, although in that case, I was kind of hanging over a hedge to get a view of it. The thatched roof is amazing.
Also, while spending a few days in London, I naturally took a jaunt past the Globe Theatre. Or rather, a replica of the Globe. The first one burnt to the ground in 1613, and its replacement was pulled down by the Puritans, who weren't exactly fans of frivolous entertainments...or the monarchy... or Christmas, for that matter. The current Globe was built in the 1990's. To round out the experience, I stopped by Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey to have a look at the statue of Shakespeare there.
Shakespeare's influence on English literature- indeed, on the English language as a whole- cannot be overstated. So many figures of speech we use without even thinking about it can be traced back to his works. In fact, I was in church once when someone speaking accidentally attributed something to the Bible which was actually Shakespeare. This confusion is understandable, as Shakespeare is the only source which might rival the King James Bible in its effect on our modern speech. The following clip of 'Horrible Histories' exemplifies this, if in a tongue-in-cheek manner: