Shakespeare at 450
© National Portrait Gallery, London
In some ways, as the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth (some time this week, apparently) and baptism (known to have happened on April 25) comes round, it's business as usual. The RSC is staging Henry IV (both parts), while King Lear is playing at the National Theatre. Some new, relevant books have appeared with customary timeliness, and several of them are reviewed in this week's TLS, which boasts the familiar "Chandos portrait" of the author (above) on the cover for a particular, and rather extraordinary, reason. There'll also be, online, the second in our occasional series of readings, courtesy of the deputy editor, Alan Jenkins.
What else is going on? Well, the RSC is aiming both high and low, with a fireworks display (let's hope this goes better than Garrick's attempt) and, tomorrow morning, the first Twitter interview with its artistic director, Gregory Doran. Shakespeare's Globe are hosting a series of lectures by distinguished Shakespearean scholars, and David and Ben Crystal will be returning to the question of original pronunciation. The BBC's contributions seem to be limited to Radio 3, including a production of Antony and Cleopatra with Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston that you can still catch the iPlayer way. Shakespeare 450, a week-long conference in Paris has just kicked off, courtesy of Société Française Shakespeare, in which commemorating and celebrating Shakespeare has itself become a notable part of the programme, among many other themes.
Those for whom inspiration lies in another direction may content themselves with entering the V&A's (ahem) Cakespeare competition, which has its own Pinterest page – rather extraordinary, too, in its edible way.
For my part, after mildly threatening to do my Shakespeare reading in private, I've more wildly volunteered to read a sonnet or three as part of the Complete Reading running tomorrow from 10am at London's Guildhall. The other readers include Damian Lewis, Alan Hollinghurst and TLS contributor Judith Flanders, so come along if you can: the standard of reading should be very high, from Sonnet 1 to 154, apart from a possible dip around the mid-60s.
And of the potentially controversial announcement of the discovery of Shakespeare's annotated copy of John Baret's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie, there will be more later – for now, let's just note that among the earliest to take gleeful note of the claims of George Koppelman and Dan Wechsler is Forbes.com, for whom there are generally applicable lessons for entrepreneurship here: "here's how a great find or new invention within your industry can impact your business". It beats waiting 400 years, I suppose.
NB (23/4): Alan Jenkins's Shakespeare's Sonnets reading is now online: