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There is something uniquely fascinating about the place where someone famous was born and grew up. As many of us travel long distances just for the chance to visit the birthplace of one of our heroes, we seem to recognize the importance of home as the foundation for future greatness. William Shakespeare’s home is no exception. WilliamShakespeare’s life journey began at his birthplace, making it an essential part of his history and the foundation of what he would go on to become. Here today to share with us the history of Shakespeare’s birthplace, how it was built, and what we know about how the property was used before, and after, Shakespeare’s residence there, is our guest, and author of the first book in the world specifically examining the history ofShakespeare’s Birthplace, Richard Schoch.

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Richard Schoch is Professor of Drama at Queen’s University Belfast , a Visiting Fellow at TheShakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the author of ‘Shakespeare’s House’,published in 2023 by Arden Shakespeare, he has written ‘A Short History of Shakespeare inPerformance’, ‘Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century’, and’Shakespeare’s Victorian Stage’, all published by Cambridge University Press. He recently led thepractice-based research project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’ in partnership withShakespeare’s Globe in London and The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

I’ll be asking Richard Schoch about:

  • Who built Shakespeare’s birthplace originally, and is the size, construction, and architecture of the home typical of the period?
  • When did John and Mary Shakespeare first come to own the property?
  • Was the original building used as both a home and a business for John?
  • …and more!

Books and Resources Richard Schoch recommends:

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Lena Cowen Orlin, The Private Life of William Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021) 

Julia Thomas, Shakespeare’s Shrine: The Bard’s Birthplace and the Invention of Stratford-upon-Avon (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) 

Nicola Watson, The Author’s Effects: On Writer’s House Museums (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020)

Here’s what’s available for this episode:

  • quotes from Shakespeare’s plays about home
  • Related episodes about Tudor construction
  • Virtual Tour of Stratford Upon Avon
  • Links to a diagram of the house showing where John Shakespeare’s business room is located
  • Link to episode about Inigo Jones
  • 20th century illustration of Shakespeare’s birthroom
  • 19th century engraving of Shakespeare’s birthplace before renovations
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That’s it for this week! Thank you for listening! I’m Cassidy Cash and I hope you learn something new about the bard.

I’ll see you next time!