Although there is no official record of his birth, we know that William Shakespeare was baptised on 26 April 1564 at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, so the date commonly attributed to his birthday is three days earlier, 23 April.


It was on this same date in 1616 that Shakespeare died. He is buried at the same church in which he was baptised.

It is not known what ended the Bard's life, but according to the diary of the church's vicar, John Ward, Shakespeare contracted a fever after a heavy night’s drinking with his friends Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton.

What does it say on Shakespeare's grave?

Before his death, Shakespeare penned his final verse: his own epitaph.

Fearing that his body would be dug up – either by someone wishing to pilfer his grave for another body or by a souvenir hunter – his four-line rhyme is a curse on anyone who disturbs his remains. It reads,

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Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

It did the trick; his body has been untouched for almost 400 years. And lying next to him is his wife, Anne Hathaway – not to be confused with the Oscar-winning actress.


This content first appeared in BBC History Revealed