Internet Shakespeare Editions


A country gentleman

About 1610 or 1611, Shakespeare retired to Stratford, perhaps because of failing health, or simply because he was tired of London and ready to lead the life of a country gentleman.

Or perhaps "semi-retirement" is a more accurate term; Shakespeare wrote or contributed to two final plays during this period.

Records also indicate that he went to London periodically for business matters and was present at Court on several occasions, as when he and Richard Burbage designed an impresa (an emblem accompanied by a motto) for the Earl of Rutland. In 1611, he was one of a number of citizens who contributed to the maintenance of highways in the Stratford area; in 1612, he was in London, giving evidence in a civil suit brought by a London tire-maker* against a former apprentice.


  1. Tires

    Christopher Mountjoy was the tiremaker. Tires were elaborate ornamental headdresses worn by the nobility, encrusted with jewels and covered with spun gold. Queen Anne, James' wife, was one of the Mountjoys' customers. In his later plays (written after he lived with the Mountjoys in 1604), Shakespeare shows a knowledge of the technical terms of tiremaking, such as "cloth of gold." (Contributed by David Kathman.)