October 10, 2003 by

John Orrell

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Categories: Education

John Overton Orrell, a historian who helped rebuild William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames in London, died on Sept. 16 from melanoma. He was 68.
Born in Maidstone, England, Orrell graduated with an English degree from Oxford University. He immigrated to Canada, earned his doctorate from the University of Toronto and spent most of his career teaching Shakespeare at the University of Alberta. When American actor Sam Wanamaker decided to rebuild The Globe, Orrell became the project’s chief historical advisor.
The Globe was built in 1599 and destroyed in a fire in 1613. Almost 30 years later, it was rebuilt on the same foundation, only to be shut down by Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans and destroyed.
In 1987, the theatre’s reconstruction began. Orrell lent his expertise to the project by using the 17th-century etching, “The Long View of London” by Wenceslaus Hollar, as a template for the theatre’s blueprints. He then did a mathematic analysis to determine the building’s proportions. Construction was completed in 1997 and the 400th anniversary of the old Globe’s opening was celebrated in 1999.
Orrell also published several books, including “The Quest for Shakespeare’s Globe,” “The Theatres of Inigo Jones and John Webb” and “The Human Stage: English Theatre Design 1567-1640.”

One Response to John Orrell

  1. Sandra Bust

    John was a good man who helped me with my family history. I am very sad to hear he had passed and hope his family is well.

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