Three awesome conversations today –
1) While waiting for the bus, with an elderly lady who now lives two streets from me, but was born in a cottage opposite the Birthplace.
2) At work, with a Mathematical Psychologist, who’s in England to deliver a talk at the University of Newcastle. But stopping off to visit Shakespeare’s town.
3) On the journey home, with an Erasmus student at the University of Warwick – also a mathematician – who asked me if I knew that Cervantes had died in the same year as Shakespeare.
I wonder how many other people have their birthplace on Henley Street? And how many are still alive – and still living in Stratford? And who else died in 1616 – besides William’s namesake and brother-in-law, the hatter William Hart. Obviously the Jonson-Drayton-died-of-a-boozeup story’s much more romantic, but I wonder why nobody ever suggests that Shakespeare might have also succumbed to whatever killed Hart – their burials are recorded on the same page of the Holy Trinity register.
As for the Mathematical Psychologist (who, I think, lived in California), he told me he’s working on an algebra that can express how and why we learn things. I do love Stratford (sometimes).
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.