Shopping cart

Shakespeare’s House: A Window onto his Life and Legacy (Hardcover)

Shakespeare’s House: A Window onto his Life and Legacy By Richard Schoch Cover Image
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days


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.

About the Author

Richard Schoch is Professor of Drama at Queen's University Belfast, UK.

Praise For…

“This book is a terrific addition to the Shakespeare library … Combining social, architectural and theatrical history, the first third of the book offers a vivid evocation of life in Elizabethan Stratford … His most piercing observation, in this eye-opening book, is that the most important person in the birthplace is not the absent Shakespeare, but the curious visitor who finds in it whatever he or she is looking for.” —Michael Billington, Country Life

“The book is jam-packed with facts and dates, but it flows well and it's easy to follow - Shakespeare's House is a delectable piece of microhistory and the perfect stocking filler for those who dabble in bardolatry.” —Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World UK

“[Schoch] proves himself an impressive detective with a nose for a good story … Entertaining in its own right and also helpful as a reminder of the life and work of the great man.” —Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“A lively account of Shake­speare's Birthplace.” —Glyn Paflin, The Church Times

“Fascinating … A detailed and highly compelling story that involves so much more than bricks and mortar.” —The Stratford-Herald

“There's a sweet spot that must be struck when writing a Shakespeare book, one between nicheness and accessibility, originality and straightforwardness. Schoch nails the brief, and then some … A book that soon reveals itself to be genuinely and sustainedly interesting … If you have an interest in Shakespeare, fantastic; you are positively guaranteed to learn something new and pay more serious attention to issues of materiality and place that oftentimes fly under the radar during our study of genius. If you don't give a fig about the Bard, but happen upon a copy, give it a go. There is more than enough insight into the things that were essential to Shakespeare, that are essential to us, to keep you hooked.” —The Arts Desk

“A sparklingly irreverent and yet sympathetic account of how and why Shakespeare's birthplace became The Birthplace. Schoch brings the Stratford-upon-Avon that Shakespeare would have known vividly to life before telling the story of how a house in Henley Street turned into cultural heritage. It is a tale of fluctuating family fortunes, changing ideas of authorship, unashamed entrepreneurialism, mingled national reverence and hypocrisy, and how much the Birthplace has been worth and to whom. Brilliantly detailed and impeccably researched new materials dug out of the archive shed light on the second-best bed, the mulberry tree, the earliest tourists, the fabrication of Shakespeare relics, the auction of the house in 1847 and restoration anxieties. The Birthplace comes into new focus as a strange and wonderful amalgam of the genuine and sham, history and mythology.

Essential reading for all Shakespeare enthusiasts – thrilling, entertaining, definitive.” —Nicola J. Watson, The Open University, UK

“Richard Schoch's account of how the site of Shakespeare's birth became an international icon is Shakespearean in its range and ambition. His impressive cast includes poets, novelists, historians, biographers, actors, scholars, visual artists, local personalities, a circus-entrepreneur, even royalty, all of whom process across Schoch's Birthplace-stage and earn a place in the story. This is not only a gripping account of how Shakespeare's Birthplace evolved (family residence, inn, butcher's shop, pub, site of pilgrimage, museum, library, archive), but a delightful tour through the highlights of the first three hundred years of Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon.” —Paul Edmondson, Head of Research, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, UK

“Marking 400 years since the publication of the First Folio, in Shakespeare's House Richard Schoch looks at the hidden history of the Bard's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, examining how it has become the chief shrine to our greatest playwright and asks what that changed status tells us about changing attitudes to Shakespeare himself.” —Choice

Product Details
ISBN: 9781350409354
ISBN-10: 1350409359
Publisher: The Arden Shakespeare
Publication Date: November 30th, 2023
Pages: 200
Language: English