William Shakespeare, the pre-eminent voice in the written English language, was never afraid of a good villain. Granted, he was able to pull from a numerous historically accurate English Royals in crafting a good number of his antagonists. Apparently inbreeding and syphilis make you mean-spirited, isn’t that right Richard III? Or for that matter you Richard II?

William Shakespeare

Outside of the Royals, Shakespeare never had troubles finding the worse in is characters. Shylock, the hate filled moneylender in The Merchant of Venice was not a nice man but compared to Aaron the Moor’s revenge in Titus Andronicus. After Titus sacrificed one of Tamora’s sons, she got a little peeved and went to Aaron for revenge ideas. He certainly had some ideas….Aaron convinced Tamora’s remaining sons to rape and mutilate Titus’s daughter Lavinia. They cut out her tongue and cut off her hands so that she couldn’t identify them. Titus’s other two sons were imprisoned, so Aaron told Tamora to tell Titus that if he would cut off his own hand she would set his sons free. So Titus chops of his hand, and then promptly receives his sons back – well, there heads at least.

That certainly took a bit of imagination from The Bard devising that one. Or did it? A new study shows that this hallmark of English may have been a cut-throat and ruthless businessman in his own right.

“Shakespeare the grain-hoarder has been redacted from history so that Shakespeare the creative genius could be born,” says researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales in a paper due to be delivered at the Hay literary festival in Wales in May.
“Over a 15-year period he purchased and stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen,” they wrote, adding that Shakespeare “pursued those who could not (or would not) pay him in full for these staples and used the profits to further his own money-lending activities.”
It’s beginning to look like The Merchant of Venice could have just as easily have been set in Stratford-on-Avon with Old Will playing the roll of Shylock.