”Now, Shakespeare was a juggler and he traveled all over Europe with a troop of players so it could very well be that he was right here.” So a tour guide at Elisinore Castle in Denmark, where they also provide you with a statue of Hamlet, so perhaps as to remind you why you came (though he looks like a young Christopher Columbus to me). I admit I do tend to get kind of snobby about these cheap tourist connections (Then why you go?—ed. I'll get that to that, I promise—Buce). But actually, I'd say that this pitch might not be quite as silly as it sounds, for a couple of different reasons.
One, we certainly don't know that “Shakespeare was a juggler,” but we do know there is a yawning gap of half a dozen years about which we know nothing and the idea that he traveled with a troop of strolling players is not as fanciful as the suggestion that he was a highwayman, a sailor a priest, an Italian or any of the countless other possibilities that have been entertained in the literature.
And two—well, let's consider this Elisinore stuff. People are bound to want to believe that the Danish palace really is Hamlet's Elsinore, just as they want to believe that the North Italian city is Juliet's Verona. So baldly stated, I've never found either proposition particularly interesting: I perfectly content with the notion that Shakespeare had never seen the real Elsinore, just as he (ahem, I assume) never saw the Lincoln Memorial.
But don't stop there. Consider Shakespeare's audience. For them, the idea that Hamlet lived (and died) through his existential crisis on a murky headland across the North Sea is not trivial. Probably Shakespeare had not been there; very likely nobody in the crowd had either. But they probably had a mental picture of Denmark: the Danes had, after all, invaded England, and pretty damn near carried off the whole country. There's plenty of reason to infer that they took a reference to Elisinore castle as unsettling and full of portent. That is, it wasn't accidental that Shakespeare set his play in a place they had never seen, just as it was not accidental that he set Macbeth in the raw, violent, untamed north, nor Lear in the pre-Christian mists of time. More likely than not, Shakespeare had never seen Elisinore, but it was part of his imaginative equipment even so.
Back in Copenhagen, we didn't have time to seek out the Little Mermaid whom I first encountered near 40 years ago. We did go down to the docks to seek out the Little Barmaid. They told us she had married a Jaguar salesman from Slough and moved off to a villa in Tuscany. Good on her. My imaginative universe is broader for the information.