The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0570 Monday, 19 June 2006
Date: Saturday, 17 Jun 2006 16:10:27 -0400
Subject: Shakespeare Reading -- Where?
At the end of the 1661 printing of Webster and Rowley's A Cure for a
Cuckold, printed by Thomas Johnson, and published by Francis Kirkman, is
the following paragraph:
If any Gentleman please to repair to my House aforesaid [the route to
Kirkman's shop is given in detail on the title page], they may be
furnished with all manner of English, or French Histories, Romances, or
Poetry; which are to be sold, or read for reasonable Considerations.
I was immediately struck by "or read for reasonable Considerations."
Kirkman's shop may have had a reading room, or Kirkman may have lent out
books as well as sold them.
I have recurrently wondered where Shakespeare got his books. I assume
that Shakespeare did not purchase all the books that he apparently read.
Did Richard Field help him in one way and another? Did Southampton
invite Shakespeare to use his library? Now I'm wondering if sixteenth
and seventeenth century publishers (before 1661) allowed gentlemen to
read in their shops for reasonable considerations. Was Shakespeare an
omnivorous reader in the bookshops of London?
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