LONDON On the 400th anniversary of his death, Shakespeare is more popular abroad than in Britain, according to a survey published on Tuesday which also found he makes a significant contribution to the UK’s prosperity and influence.
The British Council, which commissioned the YouGov survey of 18,000 people from 15 countries, said the results showed that internationally Shakespeare is widely known, liked and understood.
All the world's a stage, in fact.
But he was more popular as a percentage of people - 65 percent - in non-English speaking countries such as China, Turkey and Mexico than in countries using the tongue he helped so much to develop, such as Britain, Australia and the United States.
The Bard was not dissed too much at home, however, being liked, understood and still regarded as relevant by 59 percent.
"Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s work continues to play a vital role in educating and entertaining people around the world," said the Council's Rosemary Hilhorst in a statement.
The Council, which fosters cultural relations between Britain and other countries, said Shakespeare’s influence internationally helps generate a positive attitude towards the UK.
Over a third of people questioned said Shakespeare made them feel more positive about Britain in general, with the greatest number of respondents holding this view in Brazil (57 percent) and India (62 percent).
The British Council said his popularity had a direct influence on Britain's economy, not just in terms of attracting visitors to Shakespeare’s theatres but also contributing to the country's standing in the world which had the knock-on effect of attracting tourists.
William Shakespeare's work, which includes 38 plays and 154 sonnets has been translated into over 80 languages and is performed throughout the world. The precise date of his death is not known but his funeral was held on April 25, 1616.
As theatre fans prepare to mark the anniversary, auction house Christie's on Tuesday presented to media the first four folios of Shakespeare's collected works to be auctioned next month.
The sale, expected to fetch more than 1.3 million pounds ($1.87 million), is led by an unrecorded copy of the first collected edition of his plays, Christie's said. ($1 = 0.6952 pounds)
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
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