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Shakespeare is as big a draw today as he ever was when he was acting, writing, and helping produce his many plays. Some believe he could not have been the great author he was. The plays were just too great for a barely educated person from a town north of London to have created. But some of his contemporaries knew very well this very man was responsible for the great masterworks that flowed almost spontaneously from his pen.

The Shakespeare Channel gathers and presents the very best of a continual flow of material related to Shakespeare. It offers a carefully curated gateway to essentials about everything from contemporary performances to new books to adaptations. It keeps you informed about the vital global community that lives and breathes Shakespeare every day.

Universally known

Shakespeare provides us with a catalog of concerns that grow more meaningful over time. His characters grow. The figures Shakespeare created in a room in London, or at several theaters where he acted, are known universally. Hamlet, Cleopatra, Rosalind, Lear. No poet has attained such awareness so universally. In every country, in every language, Shakespeare attracts more and more into his orbit.

Most of what Shakespeare accomplished was done between 1498 and 1505. His greatest masterpieces were completed within a window of about five years as the 15th century ended and the 16th came alive.

An unfathomable mind

Understanding the Bard's sources is impossible. Yes, we know he had a son who died young whose name was Hamnet. But the sources for the Prince of Denmark require access to the mind of the author. He took well-known tales and turned them into tapestries. His greatest source was his unfathomable mind.

Shakespeare's mind and imagination are inaccessible. What has happened for some five centuries is that men and women of some genius have read his works and surmised as many interpretations as there have been independent critics. As many scholars have gone over a small number of facts and speculated about what they could not otherwise know. To these, we must add the endless spectrum of renditions of Shakespeare's interpreters -- the actors and other theatrical personages who have fashioned Iago and Edgar, Desdemona and Portia, from the incredible fund of words that Shakespeare left us.

We do not even know the correct version of the poet's plays if there ever was one. Shakespeare was, in the words of Nietzsche, a posthumous author. His work was published following his death in 1516. It is almost as if reality is telling us his words themselves are not correct until they become so for us. Then they take on life and body. They can be imbibed. We drink Shakespeare and end up with a beverage he made but which changed as it became part of us.

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