Friday, July 28, 2006

Brush Up on Shakespeare . . . and See His Last Will!

Passing through New England this summer? Be sure to stop in New Haven, where the Yale Center for British Art presents "Searching for Shakespeare." The exhibit includes Shakespeare's last will, making its first appearance outside the U.K.

Never visited the Yale Center for British Art? You're missing one of this country's architectural masterpieces, conceived by philanthropist Paul Mellon and designed by Louis Kahn.

Paul Mellon's mother was English; he grew up liking England much better than Pittsburgh. This concrete-and-oak jewel of a museum is the result, one of Mellon's many gifts to the American people.

The Yale Alumni Magazine article on Shakespeare's will, mentioned in an earlier post, is now online.

Worried about a new son-in-law, Shakespeare leaves half his daughter Judith's inheritance in what sounds a lot like a trust, naming his two executors as "overseers."

Shakespeare specifies that Judith won't start to collect the interest until three years after the date of the will. Moreover, the money will be controlled "by my executors and overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue."
The will was written by Shakespeare's lawyer and signed by Shakespeare on all three pages. The final signature, "by me William Shakespeare" is shown here. "Samuel Schoenbaum, author of probably the best documentary biography of Shakespeare, believes he had barely strength enough to write the last 'Shakespeare.'"

The Yale Alumni Magazine didn't put online the graphics that accompany the article. Here's a scan of the first page of Shakespeare's will. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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