Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets and he is still the most studied and performed writer ever. In fact he is more popular today than he has been at any point since his death, four centuries ago. His work has been translated into more than 100 languages and his words appear in pop songs, films and TV adverts. In fact he invented over a thousand words which we still use in everyday conversations.

So what does Shakespeare have that other writers don’t? It certainly isn’t originality as many of his plots were actually borrowed from other writers. First of all his characters are highly believable, three dimensional and very real for actors to interpret. But perhaps the most important reason why Shakespeare is relevant today is that his plays deal with timeless themes like friendship, loyalty and revenge and ask questions about life and death, love and hate, destiny and free will. Although the language itself can sometimes be difficult the emotions and problems he explores are easy for us to understand as they belong to all of humanity. Our world is very different from Shakespeare’s but his themes are perhaps more relevant now than they have ever been.

 Illustration by ​Gianni De Conno, taken from ​Love in Shakespeare: five stories, by William Shakespeare, Reading Shakespeare, Step 3 (B1.2)