Shakespeare Was Kind of a Greedy Asshole, Argue Judgey Academics

Illustration for article titled Shakespeare Was Kind of a Greedy Asshole, Argue Judgey Academics

A brand new study of William Shakespeare, the historical person, has revealed once and for all that Roland Emmerich's poors-can't-write movie Anonymous is of absolutely no consequence. Not only was ol' Billy Shakespeare a prolific playwright, poet, and all-around ink-dripping rapscallion, he was also a successful businessman, so successful, in fact, that, like any good capitalist, he hoarded his resources and refused to pay his taxes.


According to a paper by Aberystwyth University academics Dr Jayne Archer, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley and Professor Howard Thomas, Shakespeare was repeatedly prosecuted and fined for illegally hoarding food (more on that in a moment). He was also threatened with jail for crossing his arms and refusing to pay his taxes. The new academic paper makes particular note of court and tax records that show Shakespeare, over a 15-year period, purchasing grain, malt, and barley to store and resell at inflated prices.

Quoth the academy:

By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. His profits - minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion - meant he had a working life of just 24 years.

Dr. Archer further offered an especially cynical critique of Shakespeare's business practices:

There was another side to Shakespeare besides the brilliant playwright - as a ruthless businessman who did all he could to avoid taxes, maximise profits at others' expense and exploit the vulnerable - while also writing plays about their plight to entertain them.

Exploit their plight how, exactly? By paralleling it to the story of the uncompromising Roman patrician Coriolanus, who helps keep all the grubby plebeian hands away from Rome's grain stores. Shakespeare wrote (somewhere Roland Emmerich is scoffing) his play Coriolanus in 1607 at around the time of a grain revolt in the Midlands. Odds are, Shakespeare would have totally been that guy to leave an iambic pentameter insult instead of a tip on a restaurant receipt.


Shakespeare was a tax-evading food hoarder, study claims [Telegraph]


insomniac 1729

Mine eyes could not comprehend how large the earnings were, as Roger said, I earned £ 2500 in just a fortnight by hoarding comestibles and then selling them at a profit later. It is much more lucrative than my previous Job, scribbling out entertainments for smelly groundlings...