William Shakespeare’s Death

William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, on his 52nd birthday. His death came six years after leaving his theater career in London. He spent his retirement with his family at his large house in Stratford-upon-Avon.

There is no official record stating the cause of William Shakespeare’s death, but it is said that before he died, he suffered a fever after a night of heavy drinking with the playwright Ben Jonson and the poet Michael Drayton. This claim comes from the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, John Ward. 

However, Ward made this claim many years after Shakespeare had died. Many historians think this claim originated only from Stratford-upon-Avon’s appetite for gossip during that time. It is more probable that Shakespeare was already ill for more than a month before his death. His daughter, Judith, and his son-in-law, Thomas Quiney, had been embroiled in a scandal, and while it was going on, Shakespeare called for his lawyer and had his will revised. This would have indicated that he felt that his death was near. Another piece of evidence that indicates his-ill health during this time was the shaky signature that appears on his will. Before he died, Shakespeare wrote a few lines intended to be engraved on his tombstone:

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,

To dig the dust enclosed here.

Blessed be the man that spares these stones,

And cursed be he that moves my bones.

Shakespeare was laid to rest in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.