Robert Nye

Love’s Lodgings Lost

The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street

By

Allen Lane / The Penguin Press 378pp £20 order from our bookshop

In 1909, sifting through bundles of unindexed papers in the Public Record Office, an American scholar called Charles William Wallace came across the twenty-six depositions that make up the Belott–Mountjoy case. These concern a man who in 1612 was prosecuting his father-in-law for an unpaid dowry in the Jacobean equivalent of a small claims court. Nothing very startling or even interesting, but then Wallace’s eye was caught by the name of a principal witness called ‘one Mr Shakespeare that laye in the house’. Wallace realised instantly that he had made the find of his life.

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