400 years ago – 8th November 1623 – marked the publication of the 1st Folio: the first time that 36 of the the Bard’s plays were available together in print (many for the first time). As the Folger Shakespeare Library points out, the first 2 pages presented an introductory poem by Shakespeare’s fellow poet, and friend, Ben Jonson opposite a portrait of Shakespeare. In his verse, Jonson advised the reader seeking to know Shakespeare to “look, not on his picture, but his book” – something worth pondering!
In the meantime, the BBC is today devoting much of its Radio 3 output to the Bard – especially music inspired by his works. It should be available for a while on their website, although it is perhaps too interesting to have as a background to writing (good listening if creative inspiration is what you are after though).