A new book has just arrived on the book shelevs.
The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street
By Charles Nicholl. There is a short video interview of Mr Nicholl at the bottom of the page.
One Mr Shakespeare that laye in the house...
In 1612 Shakespeare gave evidence at the Court of Requests in Westminster – it is the only occasion his spoken words are recorded. The case seems routine – a dispute over an unpaid marriage-dowry – but it opens up an unexpected window into the dramatist’s famously obscure life-story. Some eight years earlier, we learn, Shakespeare was lodging in the house of a French immigrant family, the Mountjoys, in the Cripplegate area of London. And while there he was called on by his landlady to ‘persuade’ the family’s former apprentice to marry their daughter.
Charles Nicholl applies a powerful biographical magnifying glass to this fascinating but little-known episode in Shakespeare’s life. Marshalling evidence from a wide variety of sources, including previously unknown documentary material on the Mountjoys, he conjures up a detailed and compelling description of the circumstances in which Shakespeare lived and worked, and in which he wrote such plays as Othello, Measure for Measure and King Lear. Nicholl also throws new light on the puzzling story of Shakespeare’s collaboration with the hack-author and brothel-keeper George Wilkins.
In this subtle and atmospheric exploration of Shakespeare at forty, we see him not from the viewpoint of literary greatness, but in the humdrum and very human context of Silver Street, where to the maid of the house he was merely ‘one Mr Shakespeare’, renting the room upstairs. In The Lodger, one of the celebrated literary detectives of our day has created something all too rare – a fresh and original book about Shakespeare.