The King’s Women project explores the lives and socio-familial networks of the women who were connected to Shakespeare’s acting company. The mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters of members of the Lord Chamberlain’s, later the King’s, Men (1594-1642) have received scant scholarly attention, and frequently remain peripheral in the historical record. We draw on a variety of sources and employ collaborative methodology to reconstruct and better understand the women’s experiences and contributions.
By scrutinising evidence found in wills, token books, parish registers, legal documentation, and miscellaneous other sources, we reconstruct previously overlooked aspects of the women's lives and deaths, encounter new information about them, and challenge some existing scholarly assumptions. We are discovering individuals who controlled, and lost, shares in the Globe and the Blackfriars playhouses; who were victims of crimes, and who committed them; who worried about whether they were pregnant, and who knew the pain of losing multiple children. We see the women as neighbours, medical patients, workers, lovers, litigants. Most of all, we find a community in which they worked to both support and challenge their relatives in the King’s Men, and one that was characterised by extensive, inter-dependent social and kinship affiliations.