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All the World's a Stage

At the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century the world as Shakespeare knew it was expanding with exploration, and new lands and peoples could be discovered and imagined. This was also a time of improvements in map-making, with the first modern atlas printed in 1570, and the first book of accurate maps of England and Wales printed in 1579.

Theatre de l’univers map by Ortelius

The first modern atlas, Theatre de l’univers by Abraham Ortelius ©

Shakespeare’s interest in the widening world and its importance to his work is reflected in the name of his theatre, the Globe, and in the famous speech given by Jaques in As You Like It, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’.