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Still Shakin’: Shakespeare’s Portrait and His Theater Both Found


by Jerome Weeks 9 Mar 2009

Noted Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells (author of Shakespeare: For All Time and co-editor of the Oxford Shakespeare) believes he has found the only portrait painted of William Shakespeare while he was alive — in 1610 when he was 46. The so-called “Cobbes Portrait” (left) was acquired in the 18th century from Elizabeth Norton, the great-granddaughter […]

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Noted Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells (author of Shakespeare: For All Time and co-editor of the Oxford Shakespeare) believes he has found the only portrait painted of William Shakespeare while he was alive — in 1610 when he was 46. The so-called “Cobbes Portrait” (left) was acquired in the 18th century from Elizabeth Norton, the great-granddaughter of Shakespeare’s friend and only literary patron, the 3rd Earl of Southampton.

In a larger bit of historical research, archaeologists from the Museum of London believe they have uncovered a curved wall from Shakespeare’s original theater. The Theater, as it was called, was one of the first purpose-built theaters constructed since ancient Greece. It was later dismantled by Shakespeare and his fellow company members — over a dispute with the landlord — and its timbers were used to construct the famous Globe Theater. The BBC has video footage of the site.

Penny Tuerk, from the Tower Theatre Company, said Romeo and Juliet and an early version of Hamlet were thought to have been performed at the excavated site, as were some of Shakespeare’s comedies, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream…

The site is now owned by the Tower Theatre Company. It plans to preserve the architecture in situ and construct a new playhouse around it which will open in 2012.

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