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Stratford-upon-Avon

Or, how all of my Literature dreams came true

When I traveled to London and the surrounding area in June 2012, I knew there were many things in store for a literature-loving kid like me. 

After all, I was the English/Language Arts teacher for the kids who were on the trip with me. 

When the mom and dad of the homeschool program asked me for my input on the trip, I immediately suggested a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon (and a trip to the Harry Potter Studios, but that's a post for tomorrow. Literally. I'm posting about it tomorrow!). 

Throughout the school year preceding the trip, I'd focused heavily on Shakespeare's influence on later works. We even had "Little Shakes," my stuffed William Shakespeare doll that I got from the Unemployed Philosophers' Guild. (It comes highly recommended as a teaching tool for those of you who are teachers or who homeschool.)

Now, Little Shakes was returning to his homeland. And I was making it happen!

English literature


(Yes, I totally packed a doll in my luggage for a cross-Atlantic trip. The things I did for my students!)

Our trip to Stratford-upon-Avon involved several components. 

First, we went on a backstage tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company, where we saw the dressing rooms and rehearsal rooms for the actors. Then, the kids got to dress up and parade around on the smaller stage just down the street from the main theatre. 

Stratford-upon-Avon


I even donned a hat and cape to get in the mood. Lest you forget, I was the star of the sixth grade play, and then stunned the school with my riveting portrayal of Aunt Polly in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" in the seventh grade. I was practically stage royalty in middle school. 

My heart swelled with pride as I watched the three oldest kids do the "Double, double, toil and trouble" speech from Macbeth on the stage. They did such a great job and even got some applause from the rest of the tour group after they were finished. 

Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Then, it was on to the main theatre to watch Julius Caesar. This version was set in Africa and was intensely wonderful. I love a good reworking of a Shakespeare play, and this one did not disappoint. 

Royal Shakespeare Company
The five year old and I sat separately from the rest of the family so that we could make a quick getaway if he started getting bored during the play. Surprisingly, he sat attentively the entire time, even holding Little Shakes up so that he (Little Shakes) could get a good view of the play!


Next up was a quick walk through town to Shakespeare's birthplace. The kids enjoyed hearing from the guides in each room and even got to recite the three witches' speech again. I love clambering around in the old house, seeing so many historically accurate pieces throughout.

Stratford-upon-Avon has sights that bookend Shakespeare's life--his birthplace and then the home in which he died.* The latter was definitely nicer than the one he grew up in and showcased how Shakespeare rose through the ranks as he became more popular. There was a beautiful garden out back which gave the kids a much needed chance to stretch their legs. 

Stratford-upon-Avon, England

We finished up our visit with supper at a local pub, which was just down the road from Shakespeare's last home. 

I really, really wish we'd had more time to explore the town. It's one of those stereotypical adorable English towns with shops and winding alleys. Because our day was so packed, we didn't get to wander any of those! Going back is definitely on my list of things to do with Britton when she's older. (And, of course, Little Shakes will be returning!)

*The town assumed that the William Shakespeare that was born there was also the same one to return--and this same person was also the one that wrote all of the plays. There are many theories on who Shakespeare actually was--and whether he was actually one person. Some theories say that he represented a collaboration between other writers; other theories say that "William Shakespeare" was the nom de plume of a nobleman who wasn't free to reveal his true name. There's even a theory that Shakespeare wasn't even a man and that "he" was really a "she": Queen Elizabeth!

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Catch up on the other posts in this series here: