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Shakespeare's Local: Six Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub [Paperback]

Pete Brown
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

Welcome to the George Inn near London Bridge; a cosy, wood-pannelled, galleried coaching house a few minutes' walk from the Thames. Grab yourself a pint, listen to the chatter of the locals and lean back, resting your head against the wall. And then consider this: who else has rested their head against that wall, over the last 600 years?

Chaucer and his fellow pilgrims almost certainly drank in the George on their way out of London to Canterbury. It's fair to say that Shakespeare will have popped in from the nearby Globe for a pint, and we know that Dickens certainly did. Mail carriers changed their horses here, before heading to all four corners of Britain -- while sailors drank here before visiting all four corners of the world...

The pub, as Pete Brown points out, is the 'primordial cell of British life' and in the George he has found the perfect case study. All life is here, from murderers, highwaymen and ladies of the night to gossiping pedlars and hard-working clerks. So sit back and watch as buildings rise and fall over the centuries, and 'the beer drinker's Bill Bryson' (TLS) takes us on an entertaining tour through six centuries of history, through the stories of everyone that ever drank in one pub.

Frequently Bought Together

Shakespeare's Local: Six Centuries of History Seen Through One Extraordinary Pub + Hops and Glory: One man's search for the beer that built the British Empire + Man Walks Into A Pub: A Sociable History of Beer (Fully Updated Second Edition)
Price For All Three: 19.50

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447236807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447236801
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 124,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pete Brown used to advertise lager for a living, until he realized that writing books about beer was even more fun, and entailed drinking even more beer. He appears regularly on television as a beer expert, writes on beer for a variety of publications and is the author of Man Walks into a Pub and the award-winning travel book Three Sheets to the Wind. He was recently named the British Guild of Beer Writers Beer Writer of the Year 2009. He lives in London.

Product Description

About the Author

Pete Brown used to advertise beer for a living before he realized that writing about it was even more fun, and came with even more free beer. In 2009, Pete was named Beer Writer of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers. He is the author of Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer; Three Sheets to the Wind and Hops and Glory.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Pete Brown's history of one hugely historical London pub is a very funny, interesting and enjoyable book.
His story is not necessarily of just this pub but of Southwark itself, this relatively tiny area around the south end of London Bridge into which were forced all the people and pursuits London would not allow within its gates - and which was therefore a bubbling tub of the most fascinating and reprehensible activities. Theatre, prostitution, rebellion, brewery - if it wasn't for the disgusting industries such as soap-boiling, leather-working and lime-burning stinking the place up, surely everyone would have wanted to move there.
The book gives vivid, bustling portraits of this neighbourhood as a bottleneck beneath or needle-point up into the City of London (London Bridge was the only bridge until about the 1750s) in three very different stages. First is the rambunctious medieval Borough, carved up into chunks belonging to bishops and dukes who also owned the countless brothels. This is the mud-splattered, chaotic, lovable district that Chaucer and Shakespeare knew well, when inns were a refuge and a necessity created by the novel habit of travel. In such inns as the George, the nobleman sat (sometimes) alongside all the other members of society, a notion which bestows the opening plot device for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Falstaff is a frequenter of such inns with reckless young Hal, and plays were performed there before they had their own permanent buildings to call home.
The second stage is the heart of the book, where we see the inn we know (very substantial by today's standards) grown to something like eight times its current size. Pete Brown gives a portrait of a huge establishment, offering within its walls almost every kind of business that a small town would need.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, shame about the pictures. 14 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's full of interesting information about the area and the people who lived (and live) there. The author's familiarity with the reader is engaging which makes the book an even better read. He also explains the "why" as well as simply what happened in Southwark down the ages. It is much more than just a history of a particular inn.

My only criticism is that the book's illustrations do not transfer well to the Kindle. Consequently, the maps and pictures are blurred and not readable, which is a real pity as they would have put places and events in context . Better to buy the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love pubs, love this book. 22 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great journey through the metamorphasis of a wonderful old pub. It could be one of many thousands that have always been there, changing to suit their evolving communities. Brilliant read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 9 Jan 2013
This was given to me as a Christmas present because we'd 'discovered' the George during the Twelfth Night celebrations in 2012 and couldn't believe such an historic gem was nestling so close to London Bridge station. Since then I've been keen to learn more about this amazing place and Brown's book provides the best, most entertaining and authoritative guide I can imagine. I loved his writing style, especially his more anarchic footnotes, and was entirely absorbed from cover to cover. I'm not a frequent pub goer and I'm a real cider rather than a real ale girl, but I now must read Pete Brown's other books - if they're half as good as this one, they'll be brilliant. New Year's Resolution is to go back to the George for a pint in 2013. If I see Mr Brown in his usual spot, I'll gladly stand him a drink! Cheers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Book 22 Feb 2013
By Simj
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was most absorbing and informative written in a relaxed manner,found I could not put it down. It could so easily have been boring. And most certainly was not!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Local 15 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really liked the book as it evoked the past and gave a real feel for the life of a pub over the years. It also wandered over other areas were gave extra interest
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 14 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once I started on the book I didn't want to put it down.Very well researched and the facts are presented in an easily read manner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun and full of info 15 Jan 2013
By Dombo13
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you like pubs (or Inns if you know the difference and if you read this book, you will) this is the book for you. Packed with interesting stuff about Southwark, pubs, Chaucer and more. You will get to know why we say 'slow coach' which is a boon at dinner parties. Its great fun.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and interesting
A great and thought provoking read that romps through the history of a famous inn.

Probably more interesting if you visit the pub first to get a sense of what he is... Read more
Published 26 days ago by johnevison
5.0 out of 5 stars My kind of history.
Superb combination of history on the subjects of beer, pubs and Southwark with literary references thrown in. I shall have to visit The George to complete the experience.
Published 2 months ago by Peter Terry
5.0 out of 5 stars Going to the pub
A really interesting story. I've not finished it yet but I know that the whole book will be very interesting.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. L. C. Dowd
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
This was a blind purchase really as I had not read any reviews or recommendations. It was an interesting read and made me want to visit the pub in question.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs EC Cuthbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeares Local
I love Shakespeare. This book is an interesting history of The George Inn off Borough High Street in Southwark / Lambeth on the south side of London Bridge. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Judith A.B. Handyside
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect anoher Hops and Glory
I've read my way through all of Pete Browns books, and found them to be pretty quick paced journeys through the bars and culture of the UK and Europe, or of a style of beer an its... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sam Tait
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Bought this after the great series on Radio 4. Fascinating portrait of the history of part of London. I enjoyed the chatty tone.
Published 8 months ago by Jill Jakeways
1.0 out of 5 stars Monotonous
I was hoping that this would be a lively account of happenings at the George Inn. Instead it is a rambling discourse about London and not a very good one at that. Read more
Published 8 months ago by SteadyEddie
5.0 out of 5 stars One for Pub Lovers
This is a really entertaining read. It is also informative. If I were to meet the author in my local I would buy him a pint.
Published 9 months ago by Richard Unwin
4.0 out of 5 stars A good local history book
This is a fascinating local history book, all seen from a pub window.

Brown has done lots of research into the George Inn, in Southwark. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
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