Me and Bill 4Ever

Content writer Penny has confessions of unrequited love…

I have a confession to make: I’m in love with another man. It’s a crush which started when I was ten, and it’s never gone away. If anything, I’d say my passion for him has deepened with time. My husband knows all about it – he learnt to put up with it years ago. In fact, if I’m honest, he loves him a little bit himself.


The sad thing is, I’ll never get to meet my hero. I’ll never get to tell him what he means to me, how he makes my heart leap, how he can bring me sunshine on the darkest of days.
Because he’s been dead for over four hundred years.
That’s right. My big crush is William Shakespeare – or, as I affectionately know him, Bill Wagglestaff.

The flame was first kindled back in 1986, when I was ten. The local drama society was staging an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dressed in a floaty frock, I flitted around a grassy glade, reciting “Over hill, over dale…” I loved every minute.
My passion deepened as a teenager, when we moved to Stratford-upon-Avon and my parents took me on frequent outings to the RSC. Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet? Check. Robert Stephens as Lear? Check. Mark Rylance as Romeo? Check check check. Each production was more magical, more captivating than the last.

But the driving force of my passion for the bard isn’t the productions themselves – although there is no doubt many of them are magnificent. It’s the language. I love the rise and fall of the iambic pentameter, the brilliant gags, the heart-stopping descriptions of simple human emotions. It’s the ability Will has to perfectly encapsulate a feeling, a thought, a desire, so that you think he knows me. Even with 400 years between us, he knows how I feel.

As an actress, I got to act in many Shakespeare plays myself. And then, as a teacher, I found my calling – I got to share my passion.

I have had many happy, happy lessons, standing on the field at Agincourt or pacing the battlements at Elsinore. I have taken classes to a dusty tomb in Verona, and a claustrophobic barracks in Cyprus. Together with my students we have wept at the death of Mercutio, revelled in the machinations of Lady Macbeth, and laughed at the transformation of Bottom. Shakespeare has helped me to open up new worlds in dull and decrepit classrooms and I love him for that.

A Macbeth unit of work, written by today’s author and star-crossed lover

And now, I have the very best job in the world: I get paid by Twinkl to write GCSE and Key Stage 3 worksheets and study guides and SoW on Shakespeare plays. Thanks to the GCSE English Literature syllabi, I get to share my passion with other teachers and students across the world. I hope that by doing it, maybe others will fall in love with Bill, just like I did all those years ago.

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