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James Burbage

Born in 1531, James Burbage was a leading actor with the Earl of Leicester's Men, later joined the Chamberlain's Men and eventually went on to build The Theatre, the world's first custom built public theatre, in Shoreditch, London.

It is thought that James may have given William Shakespeare his first opportunity in theatre, and they remained friends from there on. His son Richard would be Shakespeare's principle actor, taking on all the most famous roles.

The Burbage family played a pivotal role in the success of London's infant theatreland, but not without cost. James, suffering the stresses of a difficult birthing process for the theatre at Blackfriars, trouble with the landlord of the Theatre in Shoreditch and the onset of a brutal winter, died in the spring of 1597.

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