Imagining the Bear Garden

In addition to its elusive geographical identity and its established position as an element of recreational life in London, the Bear Garden was also the locus of voluminous and varied opinion, in both public and private spheres of discourse. These traces of a complex cultural identity include records of reputation and audience response, figural use in popular idiom and literary representation, and in the polemical moral judgements of its detractors. As the final exhibit, the idea of the Bear Garden as the object of imaginative re-creation also presents some next steps in the study of the early modern playing venues and the pursuit of archival studies using the tools and resources of the EMLoT database.