In 1616, on this day the playwright William Shakespeare died of a heart attack after an uproarious night out drinking with the poet Ben Jonson.
Death of the Bard
By Ed, Eric Oppen and Jackie SpeelThe cause for this excessive celebration was the resolution of a long-running dispute with the King's Men. Twenty-five years before, he was the lead playwright of the first tetralogy comprising Richard III and Henry VI Parts 1-3. In the spirit of collaboration, other actors of the playing company had become involved. Soon members of the Elizabethan Court wanted to be part of the merriment, and even Good Queen Bless contributed a few lines of dialogue.
But the fun stopped abruptly when King James ascended the throne and became the company's patron. Some fast back tracking was required on the political satire in the new Stuart Court. Shakespeare lost control of his own material, and the new house playwright John Fletcher managed to force him out.
He returned to Stratford-upon-Avon to focus on his poetry. However he was recalled to London to participate in the translation of the King James Version of the Bible, and the successful publication of the KJVB in 1611 restored him to favour. Five years later, he finally recovered his rightful ownership his plays. But the Elizabethan age had long sice passed, and he was just too old to keep up with the quoffing.