Discuss Wood, In Search of Shakespeare, Chapter 11, "Shakespeare's Dream of England" (pp. 223-237) and Chapter 12, "Ambition: The Globe" (pp 239-265).


"Shakespeare's Dream of England" (pp. 223-237)

1. What cycle of plays was Shakespeare at work on at the same time that he was writing The Merchant of Venice?

2. How did Shakespeare get into trouble with the government over his depiction of his great comic character, Falstaff?

3. Who was the historical Sir John Oldcastle?

4. What business crisis beset Shakespeare's company in 1587?

5. What purchases did Shakespeare make in Stratford after the death of his son?

6. How much a year was he making as a playwright and actor? How was he supplementing his income?

Tim West as Falstaff

New Place in Stratford


"Ambition: The Globe" (pp 239-265)

1. How did Ben Johnson, Shakespeare's greatest contemporary rival as a playwright, escape execution after being convicted of murder?

2. How did the vogue for ancient Greek poetry and drama help inspire Shakespeare to write his breakthrough tragedy, Hamlet?

3. Why did Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, have to leave their theatrical home in Shoreditch (north of the city walls)?

4. What did they take with them when the company moved to Southwark, (south of the Thames River and just west of the London Bridge)?

5. Describe the site the company had chosen for their new theatre. What was the neighborhood like?

6. What was the audience capacity of the new theatre?

7. Which member of Shakespeare's company got fired just before the Globe opened?

8. What was the inaugural production at the Globe on June 12, 1599?

9. What was the response of the primary theatrical competitor in the neighborhood, Philip Henslowe of the The Rose theatre, to the opening of the Globe?

10. What made the boys company at the Blackfriars (across the river) such a popular theatrical draw at this time?

11. How was Shakespeare attacked during the "War of the Poets"?

12. How did he respond?

13. Why was Shakespeare's Henry Vth censored in 1598?

14. Why was his company nearly accused of treason in 1599?

15. How did the competing companies quickly respond to the success of Shakespeare's version of Hamlet in 1600?


London 1599

Hollar's Etching Depicting Southwark (the neighborhood of the Globesoutgh of the Thames) (see complete panorama of London 1647

The Globe as Seen in Visscher's 1616 London Panorama

The Earl of Essex