Sederi 20 — 2010
Berta Cano Echevarría & Ana Sáez-Hidalgo
Francisco José Borge López
Andrew Gurr, “Baubles on the water: sea travel in Shakespeare’s time.” SEDERI 20 (2010): 57-70.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.34136/sederi.2010.3 Download PDF
The technical features of travel by water, on sea and up rivers, are not registered as strongly as it should be in studies of the Shakespearean period. In his great edition of The Spanish Tragedy Philip Edwards mocked the author’s assumption that the Portuguese Viceroy would have travelled to Spain by sea rather than overland, since the play also notes that the two countries have contiguous boundaries. He did not know how tortuous travel overland from Badajoz to Lisbon could be. A similar ignorance of the routine use of travel by boat around the coast of England and up its main rivers is evident in the studies of playing company travels in the many Records of Early English Drama. Its editors take too little notice of the likelihood that the professional playing companies used London’s shipping to carry their personnel and properties on their journeys round the country. The official records of the Privy Council and other state papers show how important access by river was for all bulk transport through England’s rivers. Shakespeare could well have travelled from London home to Stratford upon Avon by water. John Taylor the Water Poet wrote several verses about his own travels from London by water that amply demonstrate the ease and the familiarity to travellers of going anywhere by sea and river. But it was never an easy business. Shakespeare himself twice used the word “bauble” or “bubble” in different plays to describe the fragile nature of the vessels used for sea travel.
Keywords: Shakespeare; Kyd; water; sea; REED; Taylor.
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