Thursday, January 20, 2011

Take a Walking Tour of Shakespeare's London With Your iPhone

shakespeare150.jpgIf you visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, it's hard to escape the town's connection to Shakespeare. But when you visit London, the place where the playwright actually spent most of his life working, there aren't so many signs. It's with that in mind that Victor Keegan built the Shakespeare's London iPhone app, "to remind us of these buried memories of the playwright."

A walking tour through Shakespeare's London is not a terribly novel idea. There are books and guided tours available already should you want to do more than simply visit the reconstructed Globe Theatre. (And for many, that's probably plenty.) But for those who want a more in-depth exploration of London's literary history, then an iPhone app might be just the thing.


The Shakespeare's London app maps various key locations in Shakespeare's plays and poetry and in his own life. Using the phone's GPS, you're told your distance from, for example, "the taverns he surreptitiously mentioned in his plays (such as "the Elephant" in Twelfth Night), the Silver Street house he lodged in with a Huguenot wigmaker or the numerous theatres where he acted or where his plays were performed." Clicking on an icon on the map brings up background information, commentary as well as reproductions of old prints and maps.


In an article in The Guardian today, Keegan talks about his research into mapping the history of London theatre. Many of the popular venues of Shakespeare's time no longer exist, and at inns and the like that do, there is rarely any sort of plaque or landmark.

Of course, if the Bard and Elizabethan theatre aren't really your bag, there are other apps - just like there are other guided tours - that offer insights into other authors' haunts. The aptly-titled, Literary London, for example, plots the places connects to a variety of famous authors: Charles Dickens, Aldous Huxley, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene and the Bloomsbury Set.

Neither of these apps are free. Shakespeare's London is $2.99 and Literary London $7.99. And neither of them have incorporated this wonderful technology of MegaReader, an augmented reality e-reader that lets you actually see through your iPhone as you read and walk. All of this seems to point to what seems to this literature geek, at least, as a huge market for some digital humanities types.

I mean, there's a bar in the town where I grew up where Ernest Hemingway was supposedly a regular, on the occasions he was in the region for hunting or fishing trips. There's no plaque in the Wonder Bar to commemorate it. Is there an app for that?


Shannyn Sossamon Rachael Leigh Cook Elisha Cuthbert Ciara Rachel Hunter

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