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Free Library of Philadelphia Fêtes Shakespeare on His 450th Birthday

(A reenactment of a swordfight between two of Shakespeare's characters, Hamlet and Mercutio, today at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(A reenactment of a swordfight between two of Shakespeare’s characters, Hamlet and Mercutio, today at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Today marks the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, and the Free Library of Philadelphia was celebrating his literary contributions.

To punctuate a program titled “The Year of the Bard: Shakespeare at 450,” the Free Library teamed up today —  the presumed date Shakespeare’s birth and, years later, his death — with the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre for a birthday party with cake, jugglers, and reenactors.

PHOTO GALLERY: Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday Party at Free Library

“We know very, very little about William Shakespeare,” says Carmen Khan, artistic executive director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company.   “Like, we know we know he went to grammar school, which was six days a week, and studied Latin. And we know he married Anne Hathaway and had some kids and went to London.”

Khan says Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, more than 150 sonnets, and is said to have coined more than 2,000 new English words.  Scores of his quotes are oft-repeated, so the world is celebrating.

“Fifty percent of the world’s children study him,” Khan notes.  “He’s been translated into 82 different languages. He’s the biggest-selling author of all time.  There’s a reason for that: he gets us.”

The Free Library has films, lectures, and more scheduled today, with more events throughout the year.  Details at freelibrary.org.