Shakespeare: Tax Dodger and Ruthless Businessman

Neither a borrower nor a lender be, said William Shakespeare in Hamlet, but according to researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales, he didn't exactly practice what he preached.

Turns out, The Bard was not just a literary genius. He was also a ruthless businessman:

It has now emerged that as Shakespeare wrote the play at the height of the 1607 food riots, he was himself hoarding grain. As one of the biggest landowners in Warwickshire, he was ideally placed to push prices up and then sell at the top of the market.

“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,” said Jayne Archer, a researcher in Renaissance literature at Aberystwyth University. [...]

They found documents in the court and tax archives showing he was repeatedly dragged before the courts and fined for illegally stockpiling food and was threatened with jail for evading tax payments.


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