Shakespeare's London: Everyday Life in London 1580-1616, By Stephen Porter

Back in the bard olde days

Stephen Porter's account of life in Shakespeare's city is a rather dull affair.

The prose is dry, and the book overstuffed with the sort of detail that will be of interest only to the most fusty antiquarian. Still, the author does uncover the odd anecdote that livens things up a bit.

There is an eyewitness account from 1599 that should be required reading for anyone who bangs on about too much 'elf and safety: "Last weeke at a puppett play in St Johns Street, the house fell and hurt betweene thirty and forty persons, and slew five outright, whereof two (they say) were goode handsome whores." Those poor Elizabethans were crying out for some enforceable maximum occupancy regulations.