Poll: Many Britons don't know Shakespeare

March 27, 2008 at 4:51 PM

LONDON, March 27 (UPI) -- A British survey suggests a third of Britons cannot correctly identify the profession of playwright William Shakespeare.

The survey of 3,000 people also found a quarter of respondents did not know John Keats was a poet and less than a third did not know "Winnie-the-Pooh" scribe A. A. Milne was an author, The Sun reported Thursday. An additional two-thirds of respondents could not correctly identify Oscar Wilde as the author of "The Importance of Being Earnest."

The poll, conducted ahead of a poetry contest run by English poet laureate Andrew Motion, suggested 70 percent of Britons have never written a poem to a loved one although two-thirds of survey participants said they would like to receive one.

"Although most people accept that poetry has a vital role in personal as well as national life, these findings show a depressing level of ignorance," Motion said. "The good news is that 61 percent said they would like to have poetry play a role in their lives -- in which case we hope they might also want to write one."

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