He made money

In Brief

Continuing the culture wars of British Protestants and Irish Catholics, Deasy enlists Shakespeare on the side of the angels: "He made money. A poet, yes, but an Englishman too." Foolish as he appears in quoting from Othello, on this claim Deasy is right: Shakespeare was indeed a capitalist entrepreneur.

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The playwright was one of six to eight "sharers" (i.e., shareholders) in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and its Globe Theater, who split debts and profits according to their stake in the whole. Shakespeare originally owned 12.5% of the business, but held about 7% at the time of his retirement. Gifford notes that "Most of the sources on which Stephen (and Joyce) rely for biographical information about Shakespeare in Scylla and Charybdis assert that Shakespeare had a large professional income from shares in the Globe Theatre and its company and from the sale of his plays. The sources also cite in proof the considerable real estate holdings that Shakespeare acquired in and around Stratford after 1599."

In his talk in Scylla, Stephen says, "He drew Shylock out of his own long pocket. The son of a maltjobber and moneylender he was himself a cornjobber and moneylender, with ten tods of corn hoarded in the famine riots. His borrowers are no doubt those divers of worship mentioned by Chettle Falstaff who reported his uprightness of dealing. He sued a fellowplayer for the price of a few bags of malt and exacted his pound of flesh in interest for every money lent." Deasy may be right about the great English writer's appreciation of money, but that does not mean Stephen has to admire him for it.

JH 2012
Reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. Source: salempress.com.