Kenneth Branagh: ‘William Shakespeare turned to gardening in his retirement’


Kenneth Branagh is convinced William Shakespeare ended his days as a keen gardener.

The beloved Brit portrays the Bard in his latest movie, All Is True, which imagines the writer’s life during his final three years, back in his Stratford-Upon-Avon home trying to reconnect with his wife and daughters after spending years in London.

Branagh admits he and screenwriter Ben Elton had to piece together much of Shakespeare’s retirement years using their imagination, because there’s little written about the writer after a fire destroyed his beloved Globe Theatre in London in June, 1613.

And the actor/director had to imagine how his literary hero would have spent his time, suggesting he may have started work on a memorial garden for his dead son.

Shakespeare mentions flowers and plants and trees and fauna 700 or 800 times in his plays, and draws his attention to 140 different species,” he says. “He clearly had a firm, fundamental connection to nature.

“I felt that a man, after 20 years of ferocious activity, might find appealing the idea of doing something creative at a different pace within a setting he was so keenly drawn to.”

Branagh knows Shakespeare better than most. He became obsessed with the writer as a teenager and hitchhiked to Stratford-Upon-Avon when he was 16 to soak up the world of his literary hero.

The actor and filmmaker went on to star in several of the Bard’s plays, set up a theatre company committed to his work, and make and appear in film adaptations of Hamlet, Henry V, Othello, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Much Ado About Nothing.