How did Shakespeare Sleep? A New Podcast with Sasha Handley

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

Shakespeare mentions sleep in his plays over 380 times, and the word bed over 540 times! Numbers that should prompt us to reflect more on what sleeping actually meant to him and his contemporaries.

In this week’s episode of That Shakespeare Life, Manchester historian Professor Sasha Handley discusses the fascinating culture of sleep in early modern England:


Sasha is a historian of early modern society and culture largely focused on the British Isles, and a founding member of The Bodies, Emotions and Material Culture Collective. She published the monograph Sleep in Early Modern England (Yale University Press, 2016). Her current research includes Sleeping well in the early modern world: an environmental approach to the history of ‘sleep care, funded by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award and a Wellcome Trust Investigator Research Enrichment Award. The project will be the first to investigate the environmental context of early modern sleep practices in the British Isles and early America. Material methodologies (archaeology; microscopy) are key to the project’s success. Sasha’s work has been supported by the AHRC, British Academy, Wellcome Trust, and the ESRC. Her international research fellowships include the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Lewis Walpole Library, the Moore Institute (NUI Galway), the Victoria & Albert Museum, McGill University, and The Institute of Historical Research.


The Great Bed of Ware, 1590-1600. Victoria & Albert Museum, W.47:1 to 28-1931.