Letter: The Bard must have had a head for business

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Lister rightly calls the BBC to task about its nervous reluctance concerning TV presentation of Shakespeare's plays ('Television lacks the right Will', 11 October). During the forthcoming Shakespeare season only one play will be performed, along with two feature films that include Olivier's Henry V (what, again?).

I question only one point made by Mr Lister: 'What did Shakespeare actually do for a living? Playwright? Correct.' During the Tudor and Jacobean periods a playwright was extremely well rewarded if he got pounds 8 for a play script, which then became the sole property of the acting company. No, Shakespeare made his money as a very canny businessman, an actor/sharer of the Lord Chamberlain's Men and, later, the King's Men.

Sadly, forsooth, poets are born, not paid.

Yours faithfully,


Whitby, North Yorkshire