The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0151 Thursday, 4 April 2013
Date: March 31, 2013 8:28:14 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Bard of Avon Origin
In response to C David Frankel’s question, it’s generally assumed that Shakespeare was first called “Bard of Avon” or at least “Bard”, by David Garrick at the time of the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769. Certainly the Ode on Dedicating a Statue . . . which was the starting point of the celebrations and written by Garrick contains the lines:
Sweetest bard that ever sung,
Nature's glory, Fancy’s child.
And one of the songs in Shakespeare’s Garland, entitled “Warwickshire”, also written by Garrick, includes:
For the bard of all bards, was a Warwickshire bard,
For the bard of all bards, was a Warwickshire bard
The song also claims “The lad of all lads was a Warwickshire lad”, “The wit of all wits, was a Warwickshire wit”, and so on.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an earlier use of the word in relation to Shakespeare, but like Mr Frankel I’d like to know if there is one!