Internet Shakespeare Editions


Some notorious members of the audience

From The History of Costume.

Gosson continues his attack on the theatres and their audience by writing of the prostitutes whose bawdy-houses were near the theatres (constructed outside the city for the same reason as the theatres, to be out of reach of the puritan city Aldermen):

For they that lack customers all the week, either because their haunt is unknown, or the constables and officers of the parish watch them so narrowly that they dare not quetch [stir]. To celebrate the Sabbath, [they] flock to theatres, and there keep a general market of bawdry: not that any filthiness in deed is committed within the compass of that ground. . . but that every wanton and his paramour, every man and his mistress, every John and his Joan, every knave and his queane, are there first acquainted and cheapen [bargain for] the merchandise in that place, which they pay for elsewhere as they can agree.

Gosson had the temerity to dedicate his attack on literature to Sir Philip Sidney, and it was probably this fact which led Sidney to write his splendid Defense of Poesie.