To Invest Or Not To Invest: What Can Investors Today Learn from the Wisdom of William Shakespeare?

To Invest Or Not To Invest: What Can Investors Today Learn from the Wisdom of William Shakespeare?

August 08, 2023

William Shakespeare is arguably one of the greatest writers to have ever lived. For 500 years, he has been revered for his beautiful language, dramatic and comic plays with clever plot twists, and laugh-out-loud humor that seems to capture humanity in its rawest forms with the likes of Hamlet, Romeoand Juliet, King Lear, and others. He is credited with coining an estimated 1,700 words, including bandit, lonely, green-eyed, and critic, to name a few. [i] A contemporary of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, said of him, “He was not of an age, but for all time.” [ii] Little did Jonson know, the accuracy of that statement. Shakespeare was not only ahead of his time as a writer and observer of human nature but an intelligent investor, and these ventures eventually made him a fortune. Shakespeare’s business sense and investing strategy worked for him, and he was able to retire from the theater at the age of 49. But how was he able to do this? 

What can investors today learn from the Great Bard? 

He Took Action

Shakespeare didn’t just dream of earning enough money to be comfortable or wait until it miraculously appeared; he took pragmatic steps toward generating returns on his money.

He Invested

He also didn’t just spend all of this money or stuff it under his mattress (as far as we know); he made wise investment decisions:

  • He became a partner in the Lord’s Chamberlain’s Men (later the King’s Men) acting company earning a share of their profits

  • Invested in real estate in Stratford

  • Became housekeeper (shareowner) of the Globe Theatre (sharing in profits from the performances and overall earnings of the entire company)

  • Purchased 107 acres of land

  • Bought a share in the Tithes, (King Henry VIII, King of England sold the tithe income privileges, and Shakespeare purchased one of them, about one-fifth of the Stratford tithes) [iii]
  • Purchased a gatehouse near the Blackfriars Theatre [iv]
  • He converted half of one of his properties into a tavern [v]
  • There could possibly be other investments unknown today

He Diversified His Portfolio

Whether it was his intention or not, notice that Shakespeare invested in a variety of different ventures. He had a diverse portfolio. Doing so could potentially mitigate the risk of one of his ventures not performing as expected.


Maintained Good Credit

During the period that Shakespeare was alive and working, it was common for people to borrow money from others, unlike using credit cards or taking out loans today. To be able to invest the way Shakespeare maintained solid credit, unlike his father, who went afoul of his creditors and debt responsibilities. [vi] This could be where Shakespeare learned the value of maintaining good credit and using the money to benefit his financial goals. 


Wisdom of William Shakespeare that investors can learn from 

“All that glitters is not gold.”

From a “Merchant of Venice,” Act 2, Scene 7

  • Just because something looks good on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good investment. Individuals are encouraged to do their research and seek help from a financial professional.

“Money is a good soldier, and will on”

From the “Merry Wives of Windsor,” Act 2, Scene 2

  • Essentially Shakespeare lived by this quote. Make your money work for you. 

“Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.”

From “Romeo and Juliet,” Act 2, Scene 3

  • An investor can view this quote as learning about investing and how it works through the help of a financial professional before just putting money into the market. Also, don’t expect fast returns; long-term, slow growth is much more risk-averse.

“Nothing can come from nothing.”

From “King Lear,” Act 1, Scene 1

  • If you don’t invest your money, you can’t earn a return.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

From “As You Like It,” Act 5 Scene 1

  • This may arguably be Shakespeare’s most important line. Get the help you need in life to pursue your goals. When it comes to investing your money, consult a financial professional who can help to guide you and navigate the often complex world of finance.


Shakespeare was a man of many talents, and his wisdom has been used by people from all walks of life to help individuals learn how to make better decisions, to motivate, and inspire, and to provide beautiful and witty interpretations of life’s most complex emotions. What Shakespeare shows us is that it is essential and beneficial to learn from others who have the wisdom we seek. For investors, this means turning to a financial professional with the experience and knowledge to help them pursue their financial goals.


Important Disclosures:

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by LPL Marketing Solutions.

Footnotes:

[i]Shakespeare's Words

[ii]Shakespeare’s Genius | Britannica

[iii]How Much Was Shakespeare Worth?

[iv]Shakespeare purchases the Blackfriars Gatehouse | Shakespeare Documented (folger.edu)

[v]5 Houses of Shakespeare - British Guild of Tourist Guides (britainsbestguides.org)

[vi] William Shakespeare: father's legal skirmishes shed light on bard's early years | Manuscripts and letters | The Guardian

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