At some stage I might put together a Shakespeare calendar – dates (like many things in Shakespeare)are often sketchy and hard to pin down. Look at what he does to the History plays!
As far as birthdays go, we know that Cleopatra, and Cassius, kill themselves on their birthdays. But as far as I can tell, we can only wish one girl ‘happy birthday’ with any certainty …
As René Weis observes:
Juliet’s age is mentioned no fewer than five times with reference to ‘fourteen’. One of these spells out that she will be fourteen in little over a fortnight, on 31 July. Fourteen is of course also the line-count of the sonnet, the play’s most distinctive literary form. While the play give’s Juliet’s age and birthday (her star sign is Leo, fittingly for her undaunted mettle), it says nothing about her appearance [a]
I like, also, the fact that she is never described. It lends not just a mystique but also a love and respect for her personality, not her looks (although in my mind’s eye she IS Olivia Hussey, above, from Zeffirelli‘s classic. In my defence, it was the first film version I saw).
Shakespeare gifted Juliet eternal life, and a reason to celebrate her at least one day every year, in a way in which he doesn’t the subject(s) of his sonnets.
Happy birthday, Juliet.
[a] William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (ed. René Weis, Arden third edition), (Methuen Drama: London, 2012)