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Shakespeare The Tax Dodger?

by Robert Lee,, London

02 April 2013

Uncertainty over the likely future success of his plays led William Shakespeare to do "all he could to avoid taxes," new research by scholars at Aberystwyth University has claimed.

The collaborative paper: "Reading with the Grain: Sustainability and the Literary Imagination," shows another side to the bard. It alleges that, in his "other" life as a major landowner, Shakespeare avoided paying his taxes, illegally hoarded food and sidelined in money lending.

Spurred on by the lack of guarantee that his plays would provide a steady income, Shakespeare's unorthodox behavior in the end enabled him to "retire" in 1613, having established himself as the largest property owner in Stratford-upon-Avon. He escaped with just a few fines for his trouble.

The paper will be delivered at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in May, having won an essay competition.

According to Dr Jayne Archer, lead author and a lecturer in Renaissance literature at Aberystwyth: "There was another side to Shakespeare besides the brilliant playwright - a ruthless businessman who did all he could to avoid taxes, maximize profits at others' expense and exploit the vulnerable - while also writing plays."

UK Chancellor George Osborne has yet to comment.

TAGS: compliance | tax | business | tax compliance | tax avoidance | United Kingdom | food

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