The Mermaid Tavern Club: A New Discovery
Michael Strachan introduces one of the most conspicuous members of this celebrated Jacobean drinking and dining club centred on the Mermaid Tavern in London; the eccentric ‘legstretcher’ Thomas Coryate.
Everybody has heard of the Mermaid Tavern. Many still believe that it was the meeting place of a Society or Club with which Shakespeare was closely associated. Fewer people know that two letters written by ‘The Odcombian Legstretcher’ Thomas Coryate, the author of Coryats Crudities, that splendid rag-bag of a travel book based on his European tour, have hitherto provided the only indisputable contemporary evidence that the Mermaid Tavern Club even existed.
Now, however, the discovery of a seventeenth-century Latin manuscript in the Bainbrigg Library at Appleby Grammar School has enabled us to corroborate some of the known facts and add some new ones.