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The following is an imagined account from the life of Edmund Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's youngest sibling. Edmund became an actor in London, as his brother William did. Upon his death in 1607, it is thought that William paid for his brother’s burial inside the church and for the great bell to be rung in his memory.


I was the youngest by quite a long way: there are six years between me and Richard and sixteen years between Will and me. He and Anne were more like my uncle and aunt while I was growing up in Henley Street. He was always open with me in a way that he wasn’t with the others – perhaps because of the age gap. I’d see him lose his temper occasionally, even cry sometimes. An abiding memory is him opening a parcel he’d carried back from London and showing us his name in print on that poem about Venus and Adonis. I was thirteen, and I’d just been reading the story in Ovid at the grammar school, and then there was my big brother’s version - so much more detail than in the Latin original! And humour. I used to like memorizing Will’s jokes and sayings to try out on my friends. My only one up on him (so far!) is that I actually managed to complete my apprenticeship as a glover. But our father died shortly afterwards, and then Will suggested that I join him in London for a while. I made good friends among the actors, and I used to kip with Will in his lodgings with the Mountjoys, or sometimes with our brother Gilbert over in the St Bride’s parish. He is the one who helps Will out the most.

Will and Gill: Shakespeare & sons, I like to quip. Quite a business partnership sometimes. Gill doesn’t have the responsibility of a wife – nor does Richard come to that – so he is able to help Will a bit in his business affairs. When Will bought all of that land from the Combes a few years ago - 107 acres was nearly as big as Stratford-upon-Avon itself! – it was Gill who stood as witness for the purchase. But I’m happy in London - most of the time. I travel back with Will and Gill to Stratford to see our folks. Back in the summer, my young woman bore me a son, but he died within a few hours. He’s buried at St Giles, Cripplegate, rest his little soul. How Will could cope with losing poor Hamnet, I’ve no idea. We still mourn that young lad. But my missus-out-of-law is bearing up. We’ll be moving in with some close friends soon - at The Vine in Paris Garden: close to the theatres, and perfect for me! And I’ve just registered as an official communicant in the nearby church, too.

Cast: James Burman, The Chapel Lane Theatre Company

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