In the wide realm of Shakespeare worship, the house in Stratford-upon-Avon where William Shakespeare was born in 1564 – known colloquially as the ‘Birthplace’ – remains the chief shrine. It’s not as romantic as Anne Hathaway’s thatched cottage, it’s not where he wrote any of his plays, and there’s nothing inside the house that once belonged to Shakespeare himself. So why, for centuries, have people kept turning up on the doorstep? Richard Schoch answers that question by examining the history of the Birthplace and by exploring how its changing fortunes over four centuries perfectly mirror the changing attitudes toward Shakespeare himself.
Based on original research in the archives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, and featuring two black and white illustrated plate sections which draw on the wide array of material available at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum, this book traces the history of Shakespeare’s birthplace over four centuries. Beginning in the 1560s, when Shakespeare was born there, it ends in the 1890s, when the house was rescued from private purchase and turned into the Shakespeare monument that it remains today.