1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 2

William Shakespeare's personal loss

Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, who had stayed in Stratford with his mother, died in August 1596, aged 11. He had probably lived with his mother and sisters in his grandfather’s house, since Shakespeare continued to write for the London stage.

William Shakespeare's playwriting success

  • Shakespeare’s flourishing career meant that in 1597 he had enough money to begin negotiations to buy New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford (though the sale was not actually completed until 1602)
  • By 1598, when Francis Meres recorded in his Wits Treasury the plays he knew were by Shakespeare, he listed twelve, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III
  • The Chamberlain’s Men were a popular company, being often invited to perform at court.

The new Globe Theatre

The New Globe TheatreIn 1597, the lease of the land on which The Theatre was built had expired, and the landlord would not renew it. The company temporarily moved to another playhouse, The Curtain, until 1598. However, as the actual materials of The Theatre were not owned by the landlord, in the winter of 1598 Burbage’s sons secretly dismantled the whole building. They shipped the materials across the River Thames to a new site in Southwark, on the south bank of the river. Here the theatre was rebuilt as The Globe. 

More on the Globe: It is possible to see what this theatre was like by visiting its replica in London. This was built at the end of the twentieth century, under the guidance of the American actor Sam Wannamaker, on a site very close to the original; its company plays to packed houses each summer.

NEXT - William Shakespeare's Life in London, part 3

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