• William Shakespeare was the first great “writer entrepreneur” and his financial success gave him artistic independence, an Oxford University researcher claims.
    • It was an unprecedented step for an Elizabethan author to take a stake in the ownership of of a theatre company and it put Shakespeare in a “unique position”, compared with his literary contemporaries, claims Dr van Es, from Oxford’s faculty of language and literature.

      It made Shakespeare much richer, but it also gave him much more freedom over his writing and allowed him to innovate.

    • His financial stake in the theatre also meant that as well as impressing a fashionable aristocratic audience he also had to make sure that the plays had a popular appeal to keep the crowds coming back.

      “He was writing for a mass audience, but also for the court,” says Dr van Es. The outcome he says is the “high-low hybrid” that characterises his plays.

      This new way of looking at the playwright’s career – from treading the boards to the board room – also shows how different Shakespeare was from his contemporaries, says Dr van Es.

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