Good Reading : September 2005
writer’s walk Good frend for Jesvs sake forbeare To digg the dvst encloased heare Blese be ye man yt spares thes stones And cvrst be he vt moves my bones At the time of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, it was common practice to remove bones from graves after a certain time. Shakespeare’s curse seems to have worked, because he stayed buried, despite many attempts to open his grave. Anne Hathaway, his wife, is buried next to him.Very little is known about her, other than that she was eight years older than Shakespeare and was preg- nant when they married. Her thatched cottage is a short walk from Stratford and includes the Tree Garden, created in 1988, using every tree mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.The cottage has much of the original furniture, including the wooden bench that Shakespeare and Anne supposedly sat on while courting. So what does Stratford tell you about Shakespeare? That he grew up in a small, prosperous town surrounded by natural beauty, where an imaginative child can think in peace, and where people of all ranks can be observed at close range. For real insight, there’s nothing like the plays themselves. Head for the Royal Shakespeare Company on the banks of the River Avon, where the swans glide up and down.The complex includes the Swan Theatre, built in the round like an Elizabethan theatre. After the performance, visit the Black Swan pub (known locally as the Mucky Duck). Here both actors and audience can hang out together, everybody mingling in good har- mony. Just like people do in the plays. Left: A view of the Almshouses and Guild Chapel, Church Street. Below left: A preserved Tudor building. Below right: Another view of the Shakespeare Birthday Trust, Henley Street. Below: Today the Shakespeare Institute occupies Mason Croft, originally the home of Victorian novelist Marie Corelli.