The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1807 Tuesday, 1 November 2005
Date: Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Subject: Shakespeare's Body
Experts plan to exhume Shakespeare's body
Nov 1 2005
Controversial plans to dig up William Shakespeare's grave, to find out
whether he was murdered by his son-in-law, have been revealed by
The US experts, who are convinced the Bard's death was anything but
natural, are hoping to be granted permission by his descendants to
exhume his body.
Shakespeare died on his birthday on April 23, 1616, and was buried two
days later at Stratford-upon-Avon's Holy Trinity Church. His grave has
remained untouched for more than 350 years, but now American
pathologists want to disturb his resting place, in spite of warnings of
a curse on Shakespeare's tomb if anyone tries to disturb his bones.
They are convinced scientific advances including DNA testing will end
years of speculation about Shakespeare being murdered. Professor James
Starrs, of George Washington University in the US, said: "Shakespeare
has made it clear that there is no justification for removing his bones.
However, there is some consideration of foul play and the possibility
that we could positively identify his body, so permission for this
project becomes easier to find."
Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Professor Stanley Wells
said: "There is not the slightest reason to suppose that Shakespeare was
murdered by his son-in-law, or that opening the grave would produce any
evidence relating to the authorship of the plays, which is beyond all
"On the other hand, if exhumation of whatever remains may have survived
would put a stop to rumour and speculation, I should not object to it.
"I think it could be very useful to clear the air and some Shakespeare
DNA would be incredibly useful. There is a lot we do not know about
Other famous exhumations include the bodies of Johann Sebastian Bach and
JFK's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
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