Do you have a favorite Shakespeare sonnet?

Shakespeare's First Folio
A Sotheby's employee handles a copy of "William Shakespeare, The First Folio 1623" in London, England.
Scott Barbour | Getty Images file

400 years after his death, Shakespeare still delights an audience. Many people can recite a line or two or twenty off the top of their heads — but the man himself remains a mystery.

"We know relatively little about Shakespeare," said Anatoly Liberman, a professor at the University of Minnesota. "We know a good deal about the progress of his plays, and his career as an actor, but we don't know enough about his life. That's a tremendous understatement: We really know very little about him. That is the cause of so many interpretations, conjectures and wild fantasies."

Liberman joined MPR News host Kerri Miller to discuss the little-known life of the Bard, his ear for language and his storied sonnets.

Sonnets, Liberman said, were tremendously popular in the 1500s. The publication of Shakespeare's sonnets, however, came at the end of an era for the poetic form.

When Shakespeare wrote his collection, which was likely at the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th, "he more or less coincided with the end of the world of sonnets."

For the full discussion on Shakespeare and his sonnets with Anatoly Liberman, use the audio player above.

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