Susanna and her husband, Dr John Hall, filed a lawsuit for slander against John Lane at the Consistory Court at Worcester on this day in 1613. The twenty-three-year-old Lane had accused Susanna, who was thirty-one years old at the time, of committing adultery with a haberdasher named Rafe Smith. He also claimed that she had […]Continue reading

In October 1608, Shakespeare stood as godfather to William Walker, the son of one of the bailiffs in Stratford-upon-Avon. Earlier that year, Henry Walker had presided over a court case in which Shakespeare sued John Addenbrooke for the sum of £6. Shakespeare became his son’s godfather during a ceremony at Holy Trinity Church a few […]Continue reading

  Lord Burghley, Secretary of State under Elizabeth I, wrote a short manual for his son as he set off on his youthful travels to France. It was titled Memorial for Thomas Cecil (1561) and was full of detailed advice regarding his spiritual welfare, his clothing and his behaviour: If you offend in forgetting of […]Continue reading

  A range of stage properties and special effects were used to add spectacle to performances in early modern playhouses. Gunpowder was often used for special effects, most memorably on the day the Globe burned down. Wadding had been used along with the gunpowder in the small canon which was fired. Although no cannon balls were […]Continue reading

  Eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays were printed during his lifetime in cheap versions known as ‘quartos’. A quarto was a book made from printed sheets which had been folded into four sections. When the large sheet of paper was folded in half, and then in half again, it resulted in four double-sided leaves. The smaller […]Continue reading

Bear-baiting was a popular form of entertainment in London in the sixteenth century. The bear-baiting pits on the south bank of the Thames frequently attracted large crowds to watch the blood-sport. The Bear Garden was one of the amphitheatres that staged the blood-thirsty spectacle of a chained bear defending itself against the mastiff dogs trained […]Continue reading