LONDON (Reuters) – On the 400th anniversary of his death, Shakespeare is more popular abroad than in Britain and makes a significant contribution to the UK’s prosperity and influence, according to a survey published on Tuesday.
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.
“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 per cent) and India (62 per cent).
The survey also found Shakespeare was more popular (65 per cent) in terms of being liked, understood and still regarded as relevant today overseas than in his home country (59 per cent).
But his popularity in other English-speaking countries such as Australia and the United States was significantly lower than in the non-English speaking countries polled including China, Turkey and Mexico.
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.
(Reporting by Bethany Rielly; editing by Stephen Addison)