Study Guide

William Shakespeare Death

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Sometime between 1610 and 1613, Shakespeare left London and moved back to Stratford, where his wife and married daughters had been living all the while. By this time, Shakespeare was a wealthy and well-known man. Thanks to shrewd investments with the returns from his shares in the Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare had become rich. He owned the second-largest house in Stratford-upon-Avon. He moved in lofty circles among prominent people he met through his associations with the royal court and with wealthy patrons like Southampton. He had made his name and a successful career, and settled into a retirement that turned out to be rather short. By the spring of 1616, Shakespeare fell ill with some kind of illness; his precise ailment has been lost to history. On 23 April 1616, his 52nd birthday, William Shakespeare died. He was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, the same place he was baptized. As one final testament to his famous wit, he had his tombstone inscribed with a rather hilarious curse: "Good friend for Jesus sake forbear / To dig the dust enclosed here! / Blest be the man that spares these stones, / And curst be he that moves my bones." It was somehow a fitting way to draw the curtain on Shakespeare's life.

In his memorial bust in Stratford (said to be one of only two accurate representations of the way he actually looked), Shakespeare holds a quill above an inscription that refers to "all that he hath writ."

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