|The years in which Shakespeare wrote were among the most exciting in English history. The discovery, translation, and printing of Greek and Roman classics made ideas available that interacted complexly with Christian beliefs. New worlds—both North and South America—were explored, occupied by people who lived very differently than Renaissance Europeans and Englishmen. With Galileo's telescope, produced in 1609, the universe seemed to shift and expand.
London, too, rapidly expanded and changed while Shakespeare lived there, becoming an exciting metropolis that attracted thousands of new citizens a year. Shakespeare’s plays include the voices of London, but also those of Stratford-upon-Avon, in references to the Forest of Arden, sheep herding, small-town gossip, village fairs and markets. Part of the richness of Shakespeare's work is the influence of the worlds in which he lived: metropolitan London and small-town and rural England; the theater, craftsmen, and shepherds.
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Adapted from Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine (editors), Folger Library Shakespeare editions. © 2005 Folger Shakespeare Library
Abraham Ortelius. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp, 1595
Open City: London, 1500-1700
Events in North America during Shakespeare's Lifetime
Stories from the Sea