A Life of William Shakespeare

By Joseph Quincy Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
THE ERECTION OF NEW PLAYHOUSES; THE GLOBE

SINCE Shakespeare's life was now centred in the London playhouses, and since both his personal and his literary career were bound up with the fortunes of his troupe, we must turn next to certain events in the theatrical world deeply affecting the Chamberlain's Men: the construction of the Blackfriars Playhouse, later occupied by them; the building of the Swan Playhouse to compete with them; and, finally, the erection of the Globe to serve henceforth as their permanent home.1

It will be recalled that James Burbage instead of purchasing the land on which he built the Theatre in 1576 merely leased it for a term of twenty-one years. Unless renewed, the lease would expire in April, 1597, he would lose his profitable investment, and the Chamberlain's Men would be driven from their playhouse. For ten years he had been pleading with the owner of the land, Gyles Alleyn, for an extension of the demise, but without success; and when at last his tenure was entering upon its last year, he realized that he must at once do something to safeguard his interests and the interests of the Chamberlain's Company. He resolved, therefore, to build a theatre elsewhere, and to have it ready for the actors on or before the expiration of the lease.

But his fertile mind, which had already created the existing type of playhouse -- a circular tower-like structure, with the centre open to the sky -- now conceived of a new type of theatre, better adapted to the comfort

____________________
1
For a complete and fully-documented account of these events, see my Shakespearean Playhouses, 1917.

-262-

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