THE PLAYWRIGHT, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - WITH AN EYE FOR PROPERTY AND AN EXPERIENCE OF THE PLAGUE

Authored by - Asha Mathew                                                                                                                                                            Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.” ― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

There are more than one reason to celebrate the eminent playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, in this space today. April is the birth month of this iconic writer who is said to be the most quoted, next only to The Bible. A man who has been credited to have introduced around 3000 words/phrases to the English language singlehandedly. 456 years hence, a Google search on him still throws up millions of results. Even if you haven’t studied his plays, you have definitely heard of him or recited an excerpt from one of his plays during a school competition.

However, what people don’t know about him is that he was a keen businessman and had a fine eye for property – not just while investing but also selling property. The deep and innate understanding of human nature and behavior that is so ingrained in his writings is what he used most to make property deals. It is no surprise that he was a very successful property seller and buyer.

The New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was the final home of Shakespeare and The Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames are examples of the property keenly selected by Shakespeare.

 New Place was the second largest house in that area during Shakespeare’s times – truly a neighbor’s envy! In 1756, much after Shakespeare’s death, so great was the footfall at New Place, that the vicar, Rev. Francis Gastrell demolished the whole house to get rid of ‘visitors’ menace’. What remains now are beautiful gardens built around the remains of a house that once was home to a man who was a genius in theatre with excellent taste for fine property.

In the 17th century, the Globe Theatre too had suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Puritans who demolished all the theatres as they believed them to be the ‘nest of the devil’. However, so beautiful is its location and so rich its legacy that a similar structure was recreated in 1997, 200 yards away from the original site. This world-famous theatre is now called Shakespeare’s Globe.

It is said that the poet in Shakespeare blossomed during the plague of 1592-93. The city of London was locked down, all the theatres shut! The playwright was out of business and forced to stay indoors! A very similar situation to what Covid-19 has put us all into. A need to rethink and innovate was important not just from the creative but economic point of view. With theatre and plays out of question, he used this space to write poetry. His sonnets and poems are just as loved as his plays! But more importantly is the message that when hard and unusual times come over us, we need to unlearn, relearn, rethink and even innovate as demanded by the situation.

So, through these difficult times and distances, let’s still stay connected and make the most of what we have. Let’s take our lessons from stalwarts who have walked similar paths before us and left a mark!

“All the world’s a stage…” ― William Shakespeare, As You Like It


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