Shakespeare Was A Surprisingly Ruthless Investor And Profiteer

Even the master of literature had to fund his passion somehow.

 Researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales are calling attention to Shakespeare’s lesser-known ventures, which they say have been scrubbed from history by snobby researchers unable to reconcile “creative genius” with “savvy businessman.”

When the bard wasn’t busy writing dramatic and clever plays, he was also purchasing and storing “grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen,” according to a review of historical literature by the researchers. He “pursued those who could not (or would not) pay him in full for these staples and used the profits to further his own money-lending activities.”

He himself was in turn pursued by the authorities for tax evasion, and prosecuted for hoarding grain during a shortage.

In fact, Shakespeare, far from being aloof from the everyday concerns of his contemporaries, was a man of his time. He lived during Europe’s “Little Ice Age,” when food shortages and famine were common. His plays ”Coriolanus” and “King Lear” reference food shortages and unequal distribution by rulers.

Interestingly, the original Shakespeare memorial erected in 1616 had him holding a sack of grain, instead of the tasseled cushion and quill pen he holds now.

The conclusion of scholars? The greatest writer of all time has to eat, too. And that makes him all the more interesting.

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