England in the Age of Shakespeare

England in the Age of Shakespeare

Jeremy Black
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/19/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04231-6
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How did it feel to hear Macbeth's witches chant of "double, double toil and trouble" at a time when magic and witchcraft were as real as anything science had to offer? How were justice and forgiveness understood by the audience who first watched King Lear; how were love and romance viewed by those who first saw Romeo and Juliet? In England in the Age of Shakespeare, Jeremy Black takes readers on a tour of life in the streets, homes, farms, churches, and palaces of the Bard's era. Panning from play to audience and back again, Black shows how Shakespeare's plays would have been experienced and interpreted by those who paid to see them. From the dangers of travel to the indignities of everyday life in teeming London, Black explores the jokes, political and economic references, and small asides that Shakespeare's audiences would have recognized. These moments of recognition often reflected the audience's own experiences of what it was to, as Hamlet says, "grunt and sweat under a weary life." Black's clear and sweeping approach seeks to reclaim Shakespeare from the ivory tower and make the plays' histories more accessible to the public for whom the plays were always intended.

Author Bio

Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is author of many books, including Charting the Past: The Historical Worlds of Eighteenth-Century England; London: A History; and Mapping Shakespeare: An Exploration of Shakespeare's Worlds through Maps.

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Table of Contents


1. The Imagination of the Age

2. The World of the Plays

3. A Dynamic Country

4. London

5. Narrating the Past: The History Plays

6. The Narrative of Politics

7. The Political Imagination

8. Social Conditions, Structures, and Assumptions

9. Health and Medicine

10. Cultural Trends

11. England and Europe

12. The Wider World: Locating Prospero

13. As We Like Him

Selected Further Reading