Globe: Life in Shakespeare’s London by Catherine Arnold Book Review

Globe: Life in Shakespeare’s London by Catherine Arnold Book Review

Catherine Arnold’s wonderful historical book ‘Globe: Life in Shakespeare’s London’ offers a thoughtful and imaginative glimpse into the story of the Globe Theatre from 1599 to the present day. Starting out following Shakespeare, she weaves in just the right amount of storytelling and imaginative deduction alongside historical fact to produce a brilliantly compelling story. This is not a book which focuses too heavily on academic theory, and instead is a wonderful relaxed read. Arnold’s building of imagery allows you to sink into what life in Shakespeare’s London would have been like, imagining the sights, sounds and smells of the time. Taking us through the history of Shakespeare’s career in London, through the first and second Globe Theatres and the movements against these and the theatrical world in general, and onward to Sam Wanamaker’s ground-breaking reconstruction now known worldwide as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Arnold weaves a heady tale which is both enjoyable and informative.

This book is a lovely gift for those who are excited about Shakespeare and would like to find out more about him, as well as the world that he lived in and drew on so heavily for his plays. It gives an insight not just into the world of the theatre at the time, but also the political machinations happening as part of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobian courts, and how the actor, turned playwright and successful businessman that was William Shakespeare managed to navigate his way to prosperity, succeeding and learning where others around him fell. You are brought in alongside famous characters such as the Burbages, Will Kemp and Christopher Marlowe as a fly on the wall and are allowed to feel the peaks and pitfalls of their journey, all from the comfort of your own armchair. As a relaxed, informative but not overbearing read, I would be happy to recommend this book for anyone who wants to find out more about life in 16th Century London and the story of theatre’s humble roots in England at that time.

Reviewed by Harry (Tour Guide and Visitor Operations Assistant)


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