|David Garrick leaning on a Bust of Shakespeare.|
A copy of portrait by Thomas Gainsborough
destroyed by fire.
Since then the word 'Bard' has become the established nickname for Shakespeare, and has given rise to 'bardolatry', first coined by George Bernard Shaw as a term to describe the uncritical worship of Shakespeare as a being almost part divine. But has the term lost its air of reverence, and become facetious, patronising and crude? Should we unreservedly embrace Garrick's Jubilee ode "'Tis he, 'tis he, / The god of our idolatry!"? Or is it not time to do as Ben Jonson did, honour the man's memory "on this side idolatry", and ditch the terms 'Bard' and 'Bard of Avon' for ever?