At the UK’s top festival of the arts, the annual Hay Festival, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that he believes William Shakespeare was likely a Catholic.
Unlike others who have made similar claims, however, Williams – himself a published poet who speaks and writes on a variety of literary topics – doesn’t think Shakespeare was particularly devout: “How much he believed in it, or what he did about it, I don’t quite know. He wasn’t a very nice man in many ways – it’s always very shocking, that. The late Shakespeare was hoarding grain and buying up property in Stratford…If he was a Christian, he wasn’t a saint.”
While Williams also doesn’t think the Bard’s religious affiliation “tells us a great deal,” he does allow “there are things in his plays you can’t understand without understanding the notions of forgiveness and free grace.”