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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE and MIGUEL de CERVANTES died on the same day: April 23rd, 1616. Shakespeare wrote his will one month before he died, and wrote of himself as being in “perfect health.” Cervantes upon his death was described as suffering from what seem to have been symptoms of diabetes.

BEN JOHNSON (1573-1637) remarked in jest that he wished to be buried standing up. When he died, King James I had him buried in one square foot in Westminster Abbey.

ARNOLD BENNETT (1867-1931) died of typhoid fever contracted by drinking a glass of water in Paris – to demonstrate that the water was safe. His death is believed to have been one of the last occasions when the practice of spreading straw in the street to dull the sound of traffic outside the home of a dying person was carried out in London.

THOMAS HARDY’s heart was to be buried in his place of birth (the rest of his body had been cremated at Dorchester). It was placed on the kitchen table, only for the author’s sister’s cat to seize it then run off into the woods with it captured in her mouth.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (1792-1822) was cremated on the beach his body had washed to after being drowned. His heart would not burn, and it was rescued from the fire and given to his wife. She carried it on her person in a silken shroud for the rest of her life.