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Shakespeare's London Home Was in a Power Center

Historian pinpoints playwright's address in his 'Romeo and Juliet' era
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2019 10:49 AM CDT
Britain's Prince Charles, second from left, and his wife, Camilla, unveil a statue of William Shakespeare last month in Havana.   (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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(Newser) – A theater historian has followed official records to locate, for the first time, the spot in London where William Shakespeare was living when he wrote Romeo and Juliet. It was a wealthy section of central London, CNN reports—just the place for a successful Elizabethan bard recently moved from Stratford. Geoffrey Marsh began his search after the Theatre, a playhouse in East London, was discovered in 2008. Shakespeare's plays were performed there before they were staged at the Globe. That made Marsh wonder when Shakespeare lived in that period. He dug into records as far back as the 1550s that were "remarkably" well-preserved, though the inconsistent spellings in the documents added to the challenge.

Starting with the knowledge that Shakespeare lived near Liverpool Street station between 1597 and 1598, Marsh pinpointed the address as what is now 35 Great St. Helen's, per the BBC. It's an office block next to St. Helen's Church. At the time, it was a group of buildings overlooking the churchyard. Just a few years after arriving in London, Marsh says, Shakespeare "was living in one of the wealthiest parishes in the city, alongside powerful public figures, wealthy international merchants, society doctors and expert musicians." Those merchants had connections across Europe, Marsh says, and "the doctors were linked to the latest progressive thinking in universities in Italy and Germany." That neighborhood could have helped the playwright in several ways, Marsh says. "Living in what was one of the power locales of London would have also enhanced Shakespeare's status as he developed his career, sought a family coat of arms and planned to buy an impressive and expensive house in Stratford." (Read more William Shakespeare stories.)

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