Topic: Shakespeare Street (TDN 03/08/2019)

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Shakespeare Street

Of all the many streets in Stratford named after Shakespearean characters, only one is named for the bard himself.

The town’s connection to William Shakespeare (1564-1616) began from the earliest days of settlement in the 1870s. Suggested names for the new municipality originally included Kellyville, Carrington, Standish and Sylvania. But the Pātea River was said to look so much like England’s River Avon that the name Stratford-on-Pātea, in homage to Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon, was officially adopted on 3 December 1877. The latter part of the title eventually fell out of use and the town became known simply as Stratford. In keeping with the Shakespearean theme, it was decided that all future streets would draw their names from the works of the great playwright.

Shakespeare penned 39 plays and 154 sonnets, so there were plenty of characters and locations to choose from. He is also credited with inventing at least 400 new words including admirable, amazement, barefaced, batty, bloodstained, bump, catlike, dwindle, fashionable, freezing, glow, hunchbacked, lacklustre, moonbeam, retirement, revolting, scuffle, silliness, tranquil, watchdog and zany. Then there are the everyday phrases and sayings he coined, like “all of a sudden”, “vanish into thin air”, “dead as a doornail”, “wild goose chase”, “break the ice”, “foregone conclusion” and “a sorry sight”.

Shakespeare’s famous surname derives from the Middle English words ‘schakken’ meaning to brandish and ‘speer’ meaning spear. It had long been suggested that Stratford should have a street named specially for the man whose literary output had so inspired the town. Finally, on 19 May 1954 it became official. The Taranaki Daily News reported that the borough council had agreed to a new cul-de-sac off Brecon Road, just south of King Edward Park, being called Shakespeare Street.

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Shakespeare Street (TDN 03/08/2019)