Shakespeare's Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects
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The New York Times bestselling author of A History of the World in 100 Objects brings the world of Shakespeare and the Tudor era of Elizabeth I into focus
We feel we know Shakespeare’s characters. Think of Hamlet, trapped in indecision, or Macbeth’s merciless and ultimately self-destructive ambition, or the Machiavellian rise and short reign of Richard III. They are so vital, so alive and real that we can see aspects of ourselves in them. But their world was at once familiar and nothing like our own.
In this brilliant work of historical reconstruction Neil MacGregor and his team at the British Museum, working together in a landmark collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC, bring us twenty objects that capture the essence of Shakespeare’s universe. A perfect complement to A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor’s landmark New York Times bestseller, Shakespeare’s Restless World highlights a turning point in human history.
This magnificent book, illustrated throughout with more than one hundred vibrant color photographs, invites you to travel back in history and to touch, smell, and feel what life was like at that pivotal moment, when humankind leaped into the modern age. This was an exhilarating time when discoveries in science and technology altered the parameters of the known world. Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation map allows us to imagine the age of exploration from the point of view of one of its most ambitious navigators. A bishop’s cup captures the most sacred and divisive act in Christendom.
With A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor pioneered a new way of telling history through artifacts. Now he trains his eye closer to home, on a subject that has mesmerized him since childhood, and lets us see Shakespeare and his world in a whole new light.
there that they eat with, called forks, and they’re made of iron.’ He brought one back with him and was ribbed mercilessly for it, with everyone saying, ‘What are you doing with this funny foreign thing?’ In table manners, just as in sword-fighting, Italian elegance in late Elizabethan London was for most people suspect, flashy and foreign. So to find a fork like this one next to cheap mussel and winkle shells is a powerful demonstration of the social range of a Shakespearean audience. These
polished black stone, about the size of a domestic side-plate but much heavier, about 880 grams. It is a mirror said to have belonged to one of the Shakespearean world’s most famous practitioners of the occult arts, Dr John Dee. Made of obsidian – a black volcanic stone – that has been highly polished, it is an oddly potent artefact that one is almost nervous to pick up. It is gleaming and smooth, like something modern and industrial, but it is at least half a millennium old. There is a small
Achievements of Henry V Location: Westminster Abbey Helmet Dimensions: H: 42.5cm / W: 25.4cm / D: 32.4cm Inventory No.: 839 Sword Dimensions: H: 89.5cm Inventory No.: 840 Shield Dimensions: H: 61cm / W: 39.4cm Inventory No.: 838 Saddle Dimensions: H: 39.3cm / W: 54.6cm / D: 67.3cm Inventory No.: 837 CHAPTER SEVEN Ireland: Failures in the Present Object: Derricke’s The Image of Irelande: with a discouerie of vvoodkarne Location: Edinburgh University Library Dimensions: H: 20.5cm
perceptions of aliens in Elizabethan England’, Journal of Modern History 52 (1980), D1001–D1019. Irwin Smith, ‘Dramatic time versus clock time in Shakespeare’, Shakespeare Quarterly 20 (1969), 65–9. David Thompson, Clocks (London, 2004). CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Plague and Playhouse John H. Astington, English court theatre 1558–1642 (Cambridge, 1999). Leeds Barroll, Politics, plague and Shakespeare’s theatre: the Stuart years (Ithaca and London, 1991). F. P. Wilson, The plague in Shakespeare’s
5.5.43–49. ‘Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine…’: Henry VIII, 5.5.50–55. ‘Oh where is Britaine?’: William Herbert, Lamentation of Britaine (1606). ‘What God has conjoined then let no man separate’: full text available online: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=8962. ‘let / A Roman and a British ensign wave’: Cymbeline, 5.5.477–83. CHAPTER SIXTEEN A Time of Change, a Change of Time ‘For now hath time made me his numbering clock…’: Richard II, 5.5.50–51. ‘Now,