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Did Shakespeare die of cancer?

Almost 400 years after his death, scientists believe that William Shakespeare died of cancer, writes Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 01:29 IST
Vijay Dutt

* The story in Stratford-upon-Avon, the bard’s birthplace and where his grave is, had suggested that he fell into a fever after a heavy night on the town with old friend Ben Jonson.

* But forensic tests normally used to convict criminals have found that he had a life-threatening tumour over his left eye.

* The breakthrough came after Prof Hildegard Hammer-Schmidt-Hummel, a German academic, said she could prove that there were at least four surviving portraits of Shakespeare which indicate swellings close to his left eye. Each shows a growth on the left eye, which increases in later pictures.

* Doctors said this could be the evidence of a cancerous tumour which could have caused his death at the age of 52 in 1616. Following his death, it is said his body was examined by son-in-law Dr John Hall but no cause of death was recorded.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 01:29 IST