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Shakespeare & Beyond

Ask a Librarian: Summertime in Elizabethan England

CC0 Public Domain

Q: I know about Queen Elizabeth I’s summer progresses, but how did ordinary people spend their summers in Shakespeare’s time?

A: For most Elizabethans, summer presented little opportunity for a vacation from regular work routines. There were still farms to tend, boots to cobble, and chickens to pluck. But all was not drudgery. Hearthside amusements such as cards and dice, which occupied people during dark winter evenings, gave way to fishing, archery, swimming, and lawn bowling. On May Day, people danced around a Maypole festooned with ribbons and flowers. On Midsummer Eve, they made merry around big bonfires.


Thank you for a wonderful window into the world of Will. My husband and I
are Shakespeare lovers and are in great appreciation of the Folger!

Maureen null — June 9, 2016