Bard more popular in India than in U.K.

William Shakespeare is understood far better in India than his birth country and the iconic playwright’s popularity in the emerging economies exceeds his fame in the UK, a new survey released on Tuesday has found.

The YouGov poll for the British Council covered 18,000 people across 15 countries to mark the 400th death anniversary of the Bard this month. According to the report titled “All the World’s”, as many as 83 per cent of Indians said they understood Shakespeare, compared to just 58 per cent of Britons.

The iconic playwright proved more popular in almost all emerging economies than in the United Kingdom.

In Mexico, 88 per cent said they liked Shakespeare, compared with only 59 per cent of British people and 84 per cent of Brazilians said they found him relevant to today’s world, compared with just 57 per cent in the UK.

More than a third of people questioned said Shakespeare made them feel more positive about the UK in general, with the figures highest in India (62 per cent) and Brazil (57 per cent). Of those people, 70 per cent were interested in visiting the UK as tourists.

This has led the British Council to conclude that the popularity of Shakespeare in emerging economies, such as India and Mexico, would have a “direct impact on the future stability, prosperity and influence of the UK.”

The report’s wider conclusions are that Shakespeare is good for the British economy and also holds a positive impact on Britain’s influence across the world.

‘Vital role’

“Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s work continues to play a vital role in educating and entertaining people around the world,” said Rosemary Hilhorst, director of Shakespeare Lives for the British Council.

“As well as bringing pleasure to millions of people, his works make a valuable contribution to the UK’s standing in the world and the economy,” Ms. Hilhorst said. She also pointed out that most Britons were taught Shakespeare in his original English while abroad there were often translations which used a more contemporary, accessible language. The report was prepared as part of the British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme, aimed at taking the Bard’s works to more than 140 countries.

A series of events

It includes a touring programme of 20 films from the British Film Institute (BFI) national archive, debates, exhibitions and readings.

A whole series of events planned across the UK and worldwide will culminate this Saturday with a celebration of the 17th century playwright’s life — who died on April 23, 1616.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 9:21:30 AM |

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