Dec 4, 2008

Art - 'Shakespeare stopped writing because he went blind'

LONDON: William Shakespeare might have stopped writing because he had lost his sight, a leading playwright has claimed.

Shakespeare, who died in April 1616, stopped writing three years before his death in 1613, and Thomas suggests that years of writing by candlelight would have left Shakespeare with bad sight.

Thomas has just written a play, For All Time, about why the bard left London for Stratford-upon-Avon in 1613.

"I started off thinking about how Shakespeare would spend his working day, He would have been rehearsing in the morning, he would have been performing in the afternoon. So if he was going to write at all it would have been in the evening. So for six months of the year that would have been in candlelight," The Telegraph quoted Thomas, as saying.

"If you think about it in those terms it would have been virtually impossible for him to get to the age of 48 and still have 20-20 vision," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I just can't see that Shakespeare could have had that clear vision," he added.

Thomas also suggests that Shakespeare was frightened of staying in London in case his health failed at the speed it left his father.

And also after leaving London, the Bard didn't write any plays.

Thomas said: "When William was a teenager, his father John 'went through a strange situation when he lost a lot of money very quickly. I wonder if one of the reasons might be that he was a diabetic, lost a lot of money and couldn't work, and William was worried about that happening to him later on in life."

The chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stanley Wells, stated that the blindness theory was an interesting one, but Shakespeare could have left London after being traumatised by the Globe theatre burning down in 1613.

He also casts doubt on the assumption that Shakespeare lived full-time in London before moving back home.

"He didn't exactly depart from London. I think that's a very simplistic way of putting it, he started spending more and more time in Stratford, it would appear, but I think he spent far more time in Stratford [throughout his career] than has been acknowledged," Stanley said.

"He never had a house in London - he only had lodgings there - but he had the second-biggest house in Stratford," he added.

Wells also argued that Shakespeare had his eyesight intact, as his 5 of 6 signatures are the ones before his death.

"He was able to see well enough to sign his quite elaborate signature within two months of dying," he said.

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