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Shakespeare 400 is finally here!




For anyone who loves Shakespeare, it's a wonderful time and excuse to wallow in the brilliance of the bard.

It's finally here! Well, it will be tomorrow (April 23rd), anyway: the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

Truth is, though, that will be just one day (one very busy day) in a whole year packed with celebration, commemoration, new programmes, new insights, new discussions and, hopefully, new fans and new readers.

For anyone who loves Shakespeare, it's a wonderful time and excuse to 
wallow in the brilliance of the Bard.

But perhaps more importantly, for those whose relationship with him falls somewhere short of love, it's a time to find out a bit more, maybe get rid of a few reservations, possibly even pick up a play (or at least go and see one).

In our view, the whole 
Shakespeare 400 campaign strikes the right tone. It avoids being prescriptive or preachy, but instead presents the man and his work in a wide variety of tones, from super-serious to wonderfully silly.

In other words, there are many different entry points for all sorts of people - and no one should end up getting Bard to death (sorry, no, really, we're sorry). 

Maybe that's because, whilst there is an 'official' campaign co-ordinated by King's College, London, the mainstream media have all found their own ways in and the right ways to engage with their audience.

We're intrigued, for example, to see Screenwipe's Philomena Cunk present her own take on Shakespeare in the coming weeks on BBC2 (although no broadcast date had been announced at time of writing).

We can't promise to be as LOLsy as Ms Cunk, but we are doing our bit to spread the word and share the love.

We've commissioned the 
Great British Shakespeare Survey, to which we've had nearly 1,000 responses, and we'll go public with the results soon. Our aim is to get a snapshot of how familiar modern Britain is with Shakespeare's work, and maybe some ideas about what prevents them getting more familiar.

We've also 
teamed up with a secondary school in Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon to run a competition for schools to write a synopsis for a sequel to one of his plays.

The ideas the students have come up with are in turns brilliant, hilarious and just plain bonkers! Again, we'll share the fruits of this fascinating exercise once our jury of academics, authors and playwrights have picked some winners.

Oh, and, of course, all year, every year, we work with all our retail partners to make sure all Shakespeare's works, individually and as part of really rather gorgeous collections, are available everywhere, for the lowest prices possible.

These are amongst the greatest works of art ever created, some of mankind's finest achievements, and they're available for 
less than a price of a coffee. The Complete Works for less than a half-decent lunch.

There'll be more on Shakespeare from us and the media throughout this year, but for now, let's enjoy this special weekend, and then make the most of the momentum it generates.

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