Shakespeare: Poetic Genius and Capitalist Monster

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This puts a whole new spin on The Merchant of Venice: According to this Associated Press article, Shakespeare wasn’t just English literature’s foremost creative visionary; he was also a hardhearted grain merchant who sometimes landed in legal trouble for his unethical business practices.

During an era when food was scarce, “he purchased and stored grain, malt, and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen,” as well as “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.”

It looks like the Married to the Sea comic and accompanying T-shirt were right all along: Shakespeare got to get paid, son.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →