Napkins in Shakespeare’s England

That Shakespeare Life

Shakespeare’s plays refer to a napkin at least 20 times, including As You Like It where Rosalind mentions a bloody napkin, in Hamlet the title character is offered a napkin to “rub thy brows.” In Henry IV Part 1, Falstaff talks about someone’s shirt being made of “two napkins” sewn together, Merry Wives of Windsor scorns the greasy napkin, while Othello complains that Desdemona’s napkin is too small. When it comes to sizes, shapes, material, and uses for napkins in Shakespeare’s lifetime, we are looking to Maura Graber, Director of the RSVP institute for Etiquette, and the founder of Etiquipedia, the online encyclopedia of Etiquette, to walk us through the history of napkins and their uses for Shakespeare’s lifetime. Maura is here for two episodes with us on dining and etiquette for the 16th century. Today is Part 2 in our series with Maura on Table History, we’ll have links to Part 1 in the show notes of the episode.   Get bonus episodes on Patreon

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