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Eyewitness account of Globe Theater fire found

LONDON -- William Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII' played to a packed house the day a fire razed the famed Globe Theater, but the only injury was a man whose pants caught fire, according to a 17th century eyewitness account published Sunday.

The man, who rescued a child, was saved when a 'provident wit' gave him a bottle of ale to douse his flaming trousers, another account of the fire said.

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The London Sunday Telegraph said the eyewitness letter was addressed to Richard Weekes from Henry Bluett, who was attending a performance of Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII' at the Globe when it caught fire 342 years ago.

The document was discovered five years ago by Weekes' descendants and is expected to fetch $22,500 to $37,500 at a Sotheby's auction this summer.

Bluett wrote that the theater was full but that, in the English spelling of the time, 'the people escaped all without hurte except one man who was scalded with the fier by adventuring in to save a child which otherwise had beene burnt.'

Another account of the time apparently referred to the same man who 'has his breeches set on fire that would perhaps have broiled him if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit put it out with bottled ale.'

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The Bluett letter said, 'There came many people to see it ('Henry VIII') insomuch that ye howse was very full' -- in modern parlance, a sellout.

And, according to Bluett, the new play's correct title was not 'Henry VIII,' but 'All Is Triewe.'

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