Richard Day, A Booke of Christian prayers..., 1581 - Tending the sick woodcut, p.74v, detail.

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Date:1581

Description:A family death-bed: a scene familiar to Shakespeare.

A generation before William Shakespeare's birth, England was a Roman Catholic country changed by the actions of Henry VIII who declared himself head of the church in England, and by his son, King Edward VI, who created the Protestant state. Whether or not Shakespeare’s father retained inclinations towards the Roman Catholic church, all Elizabethans were familiar with the rituals of the last rites, and the death of family members at home was the norm. Shakespeare has characters visiting a deathbed in both Richard II, (2,1, lines 1-139) where John of Gaunt is dying, and in Henry VI, Part 2 where Cardinal Beaufort, great-uncle to the king, dies of a sudden ‘grievous sickness' (3.3).


Full title: Richard Day, A Booke of Christian Prayers collected out of the auncient writers and best learned in our tyme, worthy to be read with earnest mynde of all Christians in these daungerous and troublesome dayes', London, John Daye, 1581.


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The timeline shows resources around this location over a number of years.

1570s
Henri Estienne, A mervaylous discourse upon... Katherine de Medici…, 1575 - title page
Henri Estienne, A mervaylous discourse upon... Katherine de Medici…, 1575 - title page

Shakespeare may have owned this book. Shakespeare purchased New Place, the largest ...

1590s
Church of England, Booke of Common Prayer, 1596 - binding view
Church of England, Booke of Common Prayer, 1596 - binding view

A much-used book, possibly owned by Shakespeare. This prayer book, whose dimensions ...

1610s
William Shakespeare, Quartos, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1600 [1619] - Theseus goes hunting, p.F4v.
William Shakespeare, Quartos, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1600 [1619] - Theseus goes hunting, p.F4v.

Duke Theseus’ hounds in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Theseus’s ...

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Donor ref:SR 98 [25,674] (32/10439)

Source: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Library

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