Shakespeare's England

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Shakespeare's England

Shakespeare's England

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Shakespeare lived during a remarkable period of English history, a time of relative political stability that followed and preceded eras of extensive upheaval. Elizabeth I became the Queen of England in 1558, six years before Shakespeare's birth. During her 45-year reign, London became a cultural and commercial center where learning and literature thrived.

Elizabethan Theater Even in an era when popular entertainment included public executions and cock-fighting, theater became central to Elizabethan social life. As drama shifted from a religious to a secular function in society, playwrights and poets were among the leading artists of the day. Toward the end of the sixteenth century, the popularity of plays written by scholars such as Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, John Lyly, and Thomas Lodge led to the building of theaters and to the development of companies of actors, both professional and amateur. These companies of players traveled throughout England, generally performing in London in the winter and spring, and navigating notoriously neglected roads throughout the English countryside during the summers when plague ravaged the city. Professional companies were also retained for the private entertainment of English aristocracy.


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