Not only do Shakespeare’s plays themselves contain the finest writing of the past 450 years, but most of the best novels, plays, poetry, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616–from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens, from Ulysses to The Godfather–are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes. As Falstaff says in Henry IV, Part 2:
I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.
Shakespeare is not only creative in himself–he is the cause of creation in other writers.
– Ken Ludwig, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare