LONDON (TIP): An eccentric American showman wanted to buy the 16th Century Stratford-upon-Avon house where British playwright William Shakespeare was born and have it shipped, brick by brick, to New York in the 1800s.
Showman P T Barnum was stopped from doing so when Charles Dickens and others Bri8tish men formed what is now the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and bought the house in 1847 at an auction for 3,000 to ke8ep it in place as a national treasure.
Barnum visited Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, in 1844 while he was touring Europe with his show, seen by 400,000 people a year, ‘Coventry Telegraph’ reported. “Barnum and Shakespeare had a lot in common. They were both entertainers and astute businessmen,” said Paul Edmondson, head of the research of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. “Barnum mentions in his 1855 memoirs that he had designs on the birthplace but several English gentlemen interfered and purchased the premises for a Shakespeare association.” “One of those was Charles Dickens. They bought it in 1847 at public auction for 3,000 pounds as they knew they had to preserve this extraordinary building,” he said.
Barnum despatched an agent to Stratford-upon-Avon, armed with the cash and “full powers to buy the Shakespeare House and have it carefully taken down, packed in boxes and shipped to New York.”