Feature

Shakespeare’s shady business

Historians in Wales say the playwright “was a ruthless businessman who grew wealthy dealing in grain during a time of famine.”

William Shakespeare: bard, hoarder, and tax dodger? Historians in Wales say the playwright “was a ruthless businessman who grew wealthy dealing in grain during a time of famine,” said Jill Lawless in the Associated Press. The researchers pored over historical archives to uncover Shakespeare’s “parallel life as a grain merchant.” Over the course of 15 years, they claim, he “purchased and stored grain, malt, and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen.” He was even pursued by authorities for tax evasion and prosecuted in 1598 for hoarding grain. His business savvy shows in works like King Lear, said Jayne Archer, one of the researchers from Aberystwyth University. “In the play there is a very subtle depiction of how dividing up land also involves impacts on the distribution of food,” she said. 

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