What was the main cause of Shakespeare's death?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is no precise record for the death of William Shakespeare, as is the trouble with so many historical figures. We do know that he was buried on the 25th of April, 1616, and it is commonly said that he had died two days before. 

About a month before his death, William Shakespeare had a will prepared, leaving most everything in his possession to his daughter. The urgency with which the will was prepared implies that Shakespeare had taken a turn for the worse and saw the need to get his affairs in order. An account written fifty years after his death by John Ward (vicar of the church where Shakespeare is buried) says that he may have contracted a fever after drinking too hard with colleagues by the names of Drayton and Jonson. Though the vicar was in no way a primary source on Shakespeare's death, it has come to light that an outbreak of typhus was raging in 1616. It would not be unlikely for Shakespeare to have died of such a rampant virus.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial