Shakespeare’s Pub: A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub—The George Inn

Pete Brown, Author
Pete Brown. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-03388-8
Reviewed on: 03/04/2013
Release date: 05/21/2013
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-250-04902-5
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-250-03387-1
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This rich paean to the venerable George Inn—the last remaining pre-Reformation coaching inn—crackles with literary wit, history, and pop culture. Londoner Brown (Man Walks Into a Pub), who is clearly well versed in the top shelves of bars and libraries, combines his personal knowledge of the place with plenty of research in this light-hearted yet informative portrait of the public house and the centuries of history that have trammeled through and past its doors. While Shakespeare receives dubious top billing—it isn’t clear whether he actually ever visited the pub—Brown runs through a host of other famous patrons, like Charles Dickens and a partying Princess Margaret, as well as the pub’s proprietors, including the incorrigible Agnes Murray, who ran the inn in the 1920s and famously charged Winston Churchill a corking fee for bringing his own port. But this isn’t just a “barstool history” of the goings-on inside the George—Brown also offers a rousing take on the growth of the city outside. Despite the misleading title and occasional detours into the minutiae of historical records and beer trivia, this remains an entertaining tribute to the influence and staying power of a pub—“the primordial cell of British life.” B&w photos throughout. Agent: James Gill, United Agents (U.K.). (May 21)
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