By Carmen Richter
In 2003, Dr. Todd Lidh was organizing a summer abroad in London for a group of his literature students. As part of the trip, he wanted to show them the theaters that Shakespeare would have been involved with.
Although he knew some, he didn’t know much about them and tried to find a guidebook with all of the theaters in it. To his surprise, a guidebook of this type didn’t exist, which prompted him to start researching and creating a map of London highlighting those theaters himself.
After beginning work on the map, Lidh realized that it would be much more interesting if people reading it knew some history about the theaters they were looking at. Thus, A Walking Tour of Shakespeare’s London Theaters, a guidebook of all the theaters in London that Shakespeare would have had been involved with, was born.
Lidh gathered information about the theaters of London over three trips there.
“The theaters have great stories in and of themselves,” he said.
The stories of the theaters’ highs and lows, and the economic history of London are like the story line of a play that would be performed on the stage. Two of these trips were study abroad trips in which he took a group of students over the summer, so he was able to share the knowledge he learned about the theaters with his students.
Over this past winter, Lidh took one final information-gathering excursion to London to finalize the details for his book. Though there are many theaters in London with fascinating histories, Lidh concentrated only on the theaters with which Shakespeare would have had some involvement. Many theaters existed after Shakespeare’s time, and while his plays may have been performed there, he did not have a direct connection with them, so they were left out of the guidebook.
“I think that he’s as good a person as any to write [this book], given his love for England,” said Brian Day, a student of Lidh’s.
How does he balance teaching full time and writing the guide? Lidh said that he had to do it over school breaks.
The material he was writing about, while interesting, did not have much relevance to the literature courses he taught. He was sometimes able to supplement the material with a bit of the history he found, but for the most part, he had to separate teaching and writing the book.
A Walking Tour of Shakespeare’s London Theaters is now finished and has been sent off to various small publishing companies in England for review.
Lidh says he thinks these smaller companies based in England might be more likely to publish the book, as it is obviously related to English history. If no publishing company will agree to publish the book, Lidh says he will self-publish it.
“I think it’s important for this information to be available,” he said.