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Shakespeare’s younger brother

September 5, 2009
by the gentle author


In Southwark Cathedral the other day, I found the tomb of William’s younger brother Edmond, who followed his elder brother’s path to London to become an actor. In 1607 he performed at the Curtain Theatre (situated where Curtain Road is now) in Shoreditch. Ten years earlier at this theatre, Romeo and Juliet and Henry V were premiered – William described it as “this wooden O”. Think of that, next time you visit the Hoxton Pony, American Apparel or SCP.

It seems Edmond had a life here in the neighbourhood, because his illegitimate son was baptised in St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch, but the child died soon after and Edmond just four months later, aged only twenty seven – all in 1607. It cost twenty shilling for his burial “with a forenoone knell of the great bell”, most likely paid for by his more successful brother. Nothing else is known of Edmond Shakespeare.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Jack Worthing permalink
    December 31, 2009

    Burials were normally conducted in the afternoon. William would’ve paid extra for a morning service, so he and Edmond’s colleagues could perform later that day.

  2. Shawdian permalink
    December 14, 2015

    What a dreadful shame, losing his sons life at four months and his own that same year.
    Do we know what father & son died of? And do we know about Mrs Edmond Shakespeare, any one know?

  3. Sarah Finch permalink
    March 17, 2016

    Are you sure nothing else is known of Edmond? I have a half memory of reading about a tailor’s bill made out to him shortly before he died, suggesting his illness was not long. Perhaps this is a myth. I will try to find it again.

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