An Oxford historian has found evidence of a story that could be the real-life inspiration for Shakespeare's tragic character, Ophelia. Dr Steven Gunn has found a coroner's report into the drowning of a Jane Shaxspere in 1569. The girl, possibly a young cousin of William Shakespeare, had been picking flowers when she fell into a millpond near Stratford upon Avon. Dr Gunn says there are "tantalising" links to Ophelia's drowning in Hamlet. A four-year research project, carried out by Oxford University academics, has been searching through 16th century coroners' reports. . . .
Coroners' reports of fatal accidents are a useful and hitherto under-studied way of exploring everyday life in Tudor England," says Dr Gunn. "Some medieval historians have used them, but the Tudor records are much fuller. The enquiries into the deaths were extensive and solemnly undertaken."