Shakespeare Hoarded Grains And Resold It For Profit During Famine

(British Library)

It's hard to think of William Shakespeare as anything but the author of some of the most stirring and populist plays of the 16th and 17th centuries, but he was also a grain hoarder, profiteer, and tax evader. Centuries after his death, Shakespeare's more cutthroat qualities were sanded down and lost to time until he became the kindly man from Stratford who wrote Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and the Scottish play.

Your ignorance of the bard's bloodthirsty business practices isn't on you; they were ignored by scholars for hundreds of years until 2013, when researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales delivered their findings to the Hay Literary Festival in Wales, exposing the ugly truth about the world's most beloved playwright. Jayne Archer and her colleagues, Howard Thomas and Richard Marggraf Turley, combed England's historical archives for information about Shakespeare's life outside of the theater and found that when he wasn't writing the most famous plays in history, he spent most of his time hoarding grain and lending money during a dark time in England.