|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
invest for his and his family's security, we can come to a better understanding of his social standing at different periods in his life, the most obvious evidence to his late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century contemporaries of his success. Shakespeare undoubtedly died a man of comfortable means, but, as this book demonstrates, there is little to justify claims that he died possessed of great wealth. The circumstances of his daughters' marriages are a sufficient indication that he had not achieved true gentlemanly status. Other evidence suggests that he had not broken convincingly into the ranks of leading figures even of a small market town. Moreover, following a period of increasing prosperity, these 'business records' also reflect a declining income during the last ten years or so of his life and of his efforts to safeguard his assets. On the other hand, when compared with his father's business failure, mainly the result of a loss of credit, it is clear that, consciously or
unconsciously, Shakespeare had the good sense or foresight not to over-reach himself.