It would be impossible for me to let this day go by without marking the 450th birthday of my favourite man (thus the appropriate greeting for you above
Theories abound about his true identity. Was he really the grammar school boy who rose to greatness? Was he in fact Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford? Was he not even one individual, but a team of Elizabethan poets and playwrights who collaborated on some of the most famous works?
The thing is, even if he's not the man from Stratford, does it really matter? What counts is that someone (or maybe some people), at some point generated some of the finest literature the English language has ever known. It has endured for centuries. It has created templates for some of the modern world's most popular characters and stories. It crosses generational and cultural boundaries. It is the reason why, in a recent survey, he was voted the UK's "greatest cultural icon", ahead of even the Queen.
Now, there aren't many people in history who could do that.
For me, the answer is this: if the person who wrote the sonnets and plays is not the man we all thought he was, but someone else, it's not the end of the world. It means that there was still another human being who produced these works of art. A mistaken identity doesn't diminish the achievements and we shouldn't let it.
So thank you, Mr Shakespeare, and Happy Birthday to thee.