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The Daily

New Research Shows Shakespeare Evaded Taxes, Hoarded Grain

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Apr 26, 2016
36.william_shakespeareToday, William Shakespeare is best known for his famous plays like Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. His contemporaries in the Elizabethan era, however, also knew him as a man with a keen business mind that had multiple run-ins with the law over fiscal matters, according to the Associated Press

Recent historical research has found that, rather than living off his art alone, Shakespeare was a rather ruthless speculator. The researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales found records that showed the famous playwright regularly grain, malt and barley to hold for eventual resale, at inflated prices. Those who could not pay in full he ruthlessly pursued. Ironically enough, Shakespeare himself was at one point charged with tax evasion and pursued by authorities. 

The AP notes that Shakespeare wrote during a time of unusually poor harvests, which led to regular famines. With this in mind, it's easy to see why hoarding vast stocks of grain for eventual resale didn't exactly endear him to the public. This led to another brush with the law, as the researchers discovered he was actually prosecuted for hoarding in 1598, a time of acute food shortage. 

The researchers say this new information shows a different side of the celebrated playwright, one that might clash with the image of a man who lived for his art.