Letter: Universal truth and oppositional subtlety justify Shakespeare's lasting appeal

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The Independent Online
Sir: Howard Brenton has missed a trick in his article 'Will of the people?' (2 June). He writes about the suggestive juxtaposition of 'high' and 'low' in Shakespeare, mirrored in the physical location of his theatre 'next to restaurants, bathhouses, brothels and gardens'. But we should remember that the Elizabethan theatres in London were also literally within earshot of the bear- baiting house.

Norden's map (published in Speculum Britanniae in 1593) shows 'the Beare howse' close to 'the play howse' (which must have been Henslowe's Rose), and the two buildings were very similar in


Hollar's famous Long View (published in Amsterdam in 1647) misnames The Globe (this was the second Globe) as 'Beere bayting', so similar were the two buildings in


One thing suggested by this proximity is that, in competing for the clientele, the drama had to offer pretty strong meat.

Yours sincerely,


Brasenose College


3 June