“A Kind of Nothing”: Plague Time in Early Modern London
In 1603, plague killed one in five Londoners in the space of a few months.2 Over thirty thousand died, and thousands more fled the city, causing London virtually to stop. Its streets were deserted, except for the dying and the dead. Houses were boarded shut with the infected and their families inside. Heaps of bodies were buried in shallow graves, or left to rot in the streets and the fields. In the words of Thomas Dekker, the preeminent Jacobean plague writer, to be in London at this time was to be hung in “a vast silent Charnell-house,” surrounded by a thousand fresh and decaying corpses.3
KeywordsUrban Life Symbolic Space Early Modern Urban Significance Urban Literature
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