Finding Shakespeare's New Place

An archaeological biography

By Paul Edmondson, Kevin Colls and William Mitchell

Finding Shakespeare's New Place


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0649-0
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £15.99
  • Published Date: July 2016
  • BIC Category: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology, LITERARY CRITICISM / Shakespeare, Humanities / Archaeology, Archaeology, Literature & literary studies / Shakespeare studies & criticism, Literature, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literary studies: c 1600 to c 1800, English, Archaeology, Early Modern Literature


This ground-breaking book provides an abundance of fresh insights into Shakespeare's life in relation to his lost family home, New Place. The findings of a major archaeological excavation encourage us to think again about what New Place meant to Shakespeare and, in so doing, challenge some of the long-held assumptions of Shakespearian biography. New Place was the largest house in the borough and the only one with a courtyard. Shakespeare was only ever an intermittent lodger in London. His impressive home gave Shakespeare significant social status and was crucial to his relationship with Stratford-upon-Avon.

Archaeology helps to inform biography in this innovative and refreshing study which presents an overview of the site from prehistoric times through to a richly nuanced reconstruction of New Place when Shakespeare and his family lived there, and beyond. This attractively illustrated book is for anyone with a passion for archaeology or Shakespeare.


'In this book a compelling case is made that from Shakespeare's mid-thirties New Place was always his primary residence; that this is where he lived with his family, and where he did much of his writing; a well-off middle class landowner who never lost touch with his roots.'
Michael Wood, Professor in Public History at the University of Manchester

'This wonderful book evokes Shakespeare's lost family home, New Place, more completely and tantalisingly than ever before. It sent chills down my spine, because it brings us so vividly close to the real Shakespeare and his life in Stratford. It's a fascinating blend of history and archaeology, packed with engaging detail that places him as never before within an authentic historical context. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.'
Alison Weir, historical biographer and author of Elizabeth the Queen

'Finding Shakespeare's New Place thinks outside the box, injects common sense, realism and faith in Shakespeare's material reality in time into everything you touch here. All this grows out of an instinctive realisation that these were once real people who got up in Stratford-upon-Avon in the morning, and lived and breathed its airs and seasons.'
René Weis, Professor of English at University College London

'This biography of a place is also the biography of a person, rich with information about how William Shakespeare designed his life in Stratford-upon-Avon. Joining authoritative archaeological evidence and sensitive architectural re-imaginings, Finding Shakespeare's New Place helps us recover the aspiration, the memory, and the identity that Shakespeare lodged in his lost family home.'
Lena Cowen Orlin, Professor of English at Georgetown University and Executive Director of The Shakespeare Association of America

'I salute my fellow 'Shakespearean archaeologists'.'
Julian Bowsher, Current Archaeology, December 2016


Foreword - Michael Wood
Introduction: finding Shakespeare's New Place - Paul Edmondson, Kevin Colls and William Mitchell
1. Ancient beginnings: the site of New Place from the prehistoric to the early medieval period - William Mitchell and Kevin Colls
2. The origins of New Place: Hugh Clopton's 'grete house' of c.1483 - William Mitchell and Kevin Colls
3. Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon 1564-96 - Paul Edmondson
4. Shakespeare and New Place 1597-1616 and later occupants to 1677 - Paul Edmondson
5. A reconstruction of Shakespeare's New Place - Kevin Colls, William Mitchell and Paul Edmondson
6. After Shakespeare: New Place from 1677 to 1759 - Kevin Colls and William Mitchell
7. The archaeologies of New Place - Kevin Colls and William Mitchell
Closing remarks - Paul Edmondson, Kevin Colls and William Mitchell
Glossary of archaeological and architectural terms - William Mitchell and Kevin Colls
The Dig for Shakespeare Academic Advisory Board archaeologists and volunteers


Paul Edmondson is Head of Research at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Kevin Colls is Archaeological Project Manager at the Centre of Archaeology, Staffordshire University

William Mitchell is Project Archaeologist at the Centre of Archaeology, Staffordshire University

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