APART from writing superb plays and poetry, William Shakespeare was apparently also responsible for the existence of starlings in North America.
On March 6, 1890, a pharmaceutical magnate and literary fan named Eugene Schiefflin released 60 starlings into New York’s Central Park, in his bid to introduce every species of bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings into the New World.
Those 60 birds became a major pest, swelling to more than 200 million birds today.Stephen Marche, in his fascinating new book How Shakespeare Changed Everything, notes that the 16th-century Bard has permeated aspects of everyday life far beyond his genre and his era.
Marche states that Shakespeare’s influence is everywhere – from politics to psychotherapy, Broadway to botany. He says Shakespeare provided the foundation for Freudian psychology and changed the English language beyond recognition, inventing over 1700 words, including fashionable, jaded, bandit, advertising, glow and gossip.
“He has been used as a crude political instrument by all sides in conflicts of which he could never have conceived,” says Marche.
The Nazi Party once even tried to claim Shakespeare as a Germanic writer. In 1936, there were more productions of Shakespeare in Germany than in the rest of the world combined.
Stephen Marche describes Shakespeare as the most influential person who ever lived because “he shaped our world more than any political or religious leader, more than any explorer, artist or engineer”.
That’s open to question. What about Beethoven or Muhammad or certainly Jesus?