Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe

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A big, rambunctious biography carried off with storytelling aplomb and deep, sometimes groundbreaking research.

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Laoutaris has done a thorough research job. Thanks to [his] impressive research, this largely forgotten figure emerges as a woman of great erudition, determination and courage, scarcely less remarkable than her namesake and contemporary Elizabeth I. Elizabeth deserves the years of research and hundreds of pages that Laoutaris has given her; she can now join the gallery of neglected women resurrected by feminist scholarship. Chris Laoutaris reveals an untold story about William Shakespeare. I could not recommend it highly enough.

Laoutaris has done some very valuable archival work. It is certainly a story worth telling, and Laoutaris tells it well. It is a fascinating story and Laoutaris tells it with a winning combination of scholarly rigour and elegant prose.

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe

Contributing something fresh in the crowded arena of Shakespeare studies is not easy, but Laoutaris has done precisely that. A splendid book. She was a poet, a spy, a renowned designer of funerary monuments, and a first rate translator. She suffered terrible tragedies—the sudden deaths of husbands and young children—and held her life together almost as if by sheer determination.

She was one of the most well-connected women in England. She was also a strident Puritan. Their goal was to purify the church, and they wrote and translated books and gave fiery public sermons to bring people to their cause. Elizabeth was as radical as the best of them.


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It was more a matter of geography. Already she had endured months of construction. Once the theatre opened, its crowds would be her crowds.

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Its noise would be her noise. Quarrels among theatregoers would be quarrels at her front door.

Shakespeare and the Countess The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe

A requirement for the district to remain free of governance by the city of London was that landowners maintained all properties themselves. The wear and tear on buildings caused by increased traffic would come out of their pockets. Outbreaks of the plague would be at their doorsteps.

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The theatre had to be stopped. Taken together, betraying Shakespeare was a lot easier than standing by the side of an old friend. Shakespeare and his theatrical company were thus expelled from their new Blackfriars theatre before opening night, and were facing financial doom. Though the lease for the land had not been extended, they believed that the materials they used to build the theatre were theirs.

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