New research on William Shakespeare indicates that in addition to writing bloody soap operas, the playwright was also a fairly successful entrepreneur in Stratford-upon-Avon who invested in grain, made loans, and dodged taxes like a boss. While it remains to be seen whether the news will result in Shakespeare’s works gaining new currency with libertarians, it at least continues his status as an academic’s Rorschach test: Since so little is known about him, he can go on being gay, liberal, a woman, Jewish, illiterate, a bastard and now also an evil capitalist or maybe an admirable jerb creator.
A group of researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales is trumpeting a soon-to-be-delivered paper on Shakespeare’s business activities, arguing that “Shakespeare the grain-hoarder has been redacted from history so that Shakespeare the creative genius could be born.” One of the paper’s authors, Jayne Archer, a lecturer in medieval and Renaissance literature at Aberystwyth, also said that the details of Shakespeare’s commercial enterprises had been ignored because of “a willful ignorance on behalf of critics and scholars who I think — perhaps through snobbery –cannot countenance the idea of a creative genius also being motivated by self-interest.”
Darn elitists with their cover-ups! Also, what did Shakespeare know about Benghazi?
The Bard comes off sounding a bit like Elizabethan Mitt Romney:
“Over a 15-year period he purchased and stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen,” they wrote, adding that Shakespeare “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 was pursued by the authorities for tax evasion, and in 1598 was prosecuted for hoarding grain during a time of shortage.
No word on whether Shakespeare also had a northern Idaho compound or feared jack-booted thugs in black oxcarts.
Despite the potential benefits to free-marketeers, the researchers actually seem to be arguing for a view of Shakespeare that includes the grotty realities of making a living in the Elizabethan era:
“I think now we have a rather rarefied idea of writers and artists as people who are disconnected from the everyday concerns of their contemporaries,” Archer said. “But for most writers for most of history, hunger has been a major concern — and it has been as creatively energizing as any other force.”
Still, we look forward to the inevitable revisionist discoveries:
- Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, which is not affected by so-called “global warming”?
- Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for Obama will tax all that shit.
- Turns out you can raise money by vile means! Come to my seminar to learn how!
- Even now, now, very now, a black ram is tupping your second-amendment rights. Inpeach!
Next up, we’re looking forward to the breathless announcement from WorldNetDaily that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by Bill Ayers.Related