The Globe Burns

William Shakespeare Bookends by Bradley & Hubbard (LEO Design)

The Globe was a theatre in Elizabethan London, built by William Shakespeare and his company of co-investors (called The Lord Chamberlain’s Men). Shakespeare owned a 12.5% share.  The theatre’s opening production, in 1599, was either the premier of Henry V or Julius Caesar, depending upon whom you believe.

Much of the lumber used to build The Globe came from another, older theatre situated across the Thames (called, simply enough, The Theatre).  It seems there was a disagreement between the owners of The Theatre and the landlord who owned the property upon which it sat.  So, one night during the Christmas holidays (while the landlord was out-of-town, at his country home), The Theatre’s owners dismantled the building, plank-by-plank, under cover of darkness.  Carpenters (and a few of the company’s actors) ferried the wood across the river where it was used, eventually, to build The Globe.

On this evening in 1613, during a performance of Henry VIII, a (poorly aimed) stage canon was fired which set the theatre’s rafters and thatched roof alight, burning it to the ground. Fortunately, no one was hurt—although one report claims that a man’s breeches were burnt before being doused in ale.  A second theatre was built and opened about a year later.  In 1642, the second Globe was closed by Puritans and it was pulled-down two years later.

Although the old theatre is just a landmark today, it’s most famous part-owner is being celebrated still.  Immortalized on this pair of bookends from the 1920’s, Shakespeare can add a bit of drama to your bookshelf, desk or den.  But, please, no fires!  (Or Puritans).