Shakespeare the Man and His Stage

Shakespeare the Man and His Stage

Shakespeare the Man and His Stage

Shakespeare the Man and His Stage


I know it to be a moste safe thynge. Some offence there is in the smell thereof; and yet it is wrytten of it that the very smell therof is comfortable and yeldeth streyngeth to the brayne. . . . At Handsworth this 23th of January 1593.'

Wonderful little, when all is said,
Wonderful little our fathers knew;
Half their remedies killed you dead,
Most of their teaching was quite untrue.
'Look at the stars when a patient is ill
(Dirt has nothing to do with disease),
Blister and bleed him as oft as you please.

Yet, as in Harrison's words, 'our condemned persons do go so cheerfully to their deaths', like Barnardine, so their high spirits were proof against all lesser evils.

For this London of mingled barbarism and culture, refinement, and brutality, pagan learning and superstitious ignorance, for this unquiet mixture of races, classes, and dialects, the plays of Shakespeare were written and staged. In the manner now following.

The Theatre

The corporation accounts of Stratford record that in the year 1569 the Earl of Worcester's servants visited the town and presented a play. Shakespeare was then nearly six years old, his father was the principal officer of the corporation and therefore it is not unlikely that he was taken to see the performance and stood 'betweene his father's leggs', like another little boy, R. Willis, who about the same time was taken to see a play at Gloucester and who wrote his recollections of the event in a book called Mount Tabor :

'In the city of Gloucester the manner is, as I think it is in other like corporations, that, when players of enterludes come to towne, they first attend the Mayor to enforme him what noblemans . . .

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