William Shakespeare
in London

The Biography of William Shakespeare

  • Where did he live in London?

  • What was London like?

  • What was his life like?

  • How often did he see his family?

  • Interesting information about the family, life and times of William Shakespeare

Picture of a City street scene
 

 

William Shakespeare in London

WHO DID SHAKESPEARE KNOW IN LONDON?

  • When William Shakespeare left Stratford-upon-Avon he would have known some people who lived there!

    • Actors who had played with travelling acting troupes in Stratford

    • Business acquaintances of his father, John Shakespeare

    • Richard Field - a boyhood friend and neighbour who moved to Blackfriars in London on September 29, 1579 was apprenticed to George Bishop a prominent Printer / Publisher

WHERE DID SHAKESPEARE LIVE IN LONDON?

  • Given his friendship with Richard Field it would seem reasonable that Shakespeare would have taken lodgings near his friend, in Blackfriars, when he first moved to London

    • Richard Field became very successful and would have been acquainted with the notable Poets and Authors in London through his Printing and Publishing business - and no doubt would have introduced Shakespeare to some of them! His brother, Jasper Field, joined Richard as an apprentice in 1592

  • In 1593 Shakespeare lived in Bishopsgate ( we know this because there are court records dated 1597 saying that he owed taxes here)

  • In 1596 he was living in the parish of St Helen's in Bishopsgate

  • 1599 he had moved across the river to Bankside on property owned by the of the Bishop of Winchester's estate, the Liberty of the Clink, where the Globe Theatre was also built

  • 1604 Shakespeare is known to have moved back to the city and rented lodgings at the house of Christopher and Mary Mountjoy in on the corner of Monkwell and Silver Street in Cripplegate, not far from St Paul's. Mountjoy was a refugee, a French Huguenot and a tire-maker (manufacturer of ladies' ornamental headresses)

  • In 1613 William Shakespeare was rich enough to purchase his own property. He invested 140 in a gate-house near the Blackfriars theater. It was located in Ireland Yard which joins Blackfriars Lane via, would you believe, Playhouse Yard!

    • the former gatehouse had been the main entrance to the vast monastery of the Black Friars which had been seized and sold off during the Dissolution of the Monasteries

    • In 1615 litigation over legal title to the gatehouse shows he has made improvements to the property

WHAT WAS SHAKESPEARE'S LONDON LIKE?

  • We know exactly what London was like from this excerpt from a pamphlet, entitled "The Seven Deadly Sins of London"  by Thomas Dekkar!

  • "Carts and coaches make such a thundering din as if the world ran on wheels; at every corner men, women, and children meet in such shoals that posts are set up to strengthen the houses lest with jostling with one another they should shoulder them down. Besides, hammers are beating in one place, tubs hooping in another [the noise made by coopers or barrel makes], pots clinking in a third, water-tankards running at tilt in a fourth. . . . Tradesmen, as if they were dancing galliards  are lusty at legs and never stand still"

  • It was noisy, crowded, bawdy, bustling and busy. Trades of every kind and description! Churches, inns, houses, workshops, stalls, stables and theatres! Animals - cats, dogs, pigs, horses and sheep! Bull baiting, bear baiting and cock-fighting! Inns, taverns and bawdy houses! Actors, courtiers, churchmen, merchants, shoppers, apprentices, money lenders, bawds, beggars and thieves!

William Shakespeare in London

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