Shakespeare’s London by Stephen Porter

This is the last book I’ve read last year: Shakespeare’s London by Stephen Porter – Everyday Life in London 1580-1616. I had this book in the bookcase, waiting for me to read it and now the moment was right, as it is something I liked to read for University. It is a non-fiction book about life in London, as the title suggests. It is not based on Shakespeare’s experience because the historical documents are not that extensive. Nevertheless, it is a good account of what he must have been exposed to. Porter used sources such as contemporary letters, journals, and diaries, to create an image of London.

Shakespeare's London by Stephen Porter. Everyday Life in London 1580-1616

At that time, a lot of migrants were coming to London and there were many people unhappy with the foreigners, even though, when government reviewed the situation, saw that foreigners accounted for a single digit percentage, while the rest were English people from the countryside. It was interesting to see the measures they tried to take to avoid overcrowding, not very effective though. When it comes to that, I think the wage disparity between London and the rest of England is now smaller than it was in the late 16th century.

Porter talks about all aspects of life in London, from politics to culture, levels of mortality. He also talks about what foreign merchants and ambassadors say about London. For example Jacob Rathgeb describes London as “the Hell of horses, the purgatory of servants, and the Paradise of women”.

In London is where the first playhouses were built, with large audiences. People were able to see a rich and varied mix of plays and other types of entertainment, some which would be illegal today and incredibly cruel.

Shakespeare’s London by Stephen Porter

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Amberley
Year it was published: 2011
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History
Pages: 286

About the author: Stephen Porter worked for 17 years for the Survey of London, a century-old project devoted to the history of London’s built environment. As a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society he has research posts at the University of Oxford. He retired recently.
Other books by Stephen Porter: Great Plague; Pepys’s London; The Tower of London: The Biography; The Great Fire of London.
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