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Bill Bryson

National Archives in London have tens of millions of documents (over 100 miles of shelves) relating to Shakespeare's time. Because paper and parchment very expensive, everyone wrote very small and used every bit of space - no paragraphs. So very difficult to read. Only way to discover references to S is to sit down and methodically comb through each document.

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In early 1900's an odd American couple by name of Charles and Hilda Wallace set out to do just that. Working 18 hour days they found quite a few new refs to S, mainly in law cases and other official docs.

But as years went by, Charles became odder. Convinced that jealous English scholars were plotting to hinder his quest, he became quite paranoid, and eventually gave up and returned to US. There he developed another strange conviction: that he could identify oil-bearing ground just by looking at it. He sank all his remaining money into a 160 acre farm in West Texas. It turned out to be one of the most productive oil fields in America. Charles died in 1932, immensely wealthy, and still extremely unhappy.

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In Shakespeare's time there was a law forbidding new buildings within 3 miles of walls of London, on pain of demolition. Although rarely carried out the threat meant no-one built anything substantial - so great fields covered with instant slums, and theatres like The Globe.

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