The playwright had a good business mind and was a canny investorby Robert Bearman / March 25, 2016 / Leave a comment
Writing a proper biography of Shakespeare is virtually impossible given the shortage of hard data about him. Actually, it’s not that limited for someone who lived 400 years ago, and who never got significantly involved in the great lives of the great aristocratic and political families. (Although some have argued, optimistically, that he enjoyed the extensive patronage of the Earl of Southampton, to whom he dedicated two poems.) The problem is that the information we have doesn’t throw much light on what sort of man Shakespeare was, or on the inner workings of his mind.
So there’s an inevitable temptation, if one is to fill a book, to write about his work and other issues associated with the Elizabethan theatre, rather than bother with the disconnected biographical information that have been unearthed. This is because these bits and pieces don’t tell us much about his creative life—and rather too much about his business interests. This is a pity because this evidence is central to any understanding of how successful Shakespeare was (or wasn’t) in terms of his career. It’s often assumed that Shakespeare died a wealthy man as would have befitted a great writer. But is this true? Exactly how rich was Shakespeare?