It’s been a long time in the planning but we are now less than one month away from the opening of By me William Shakespeare: A life in writing – an exhibition of some of our star Shakespeare documents.
The National Archives holds the largest collection of documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s life, including his last will and testament. We wanted to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on 23 April with something a little different from our usual offerings.
Working with the Cultural Institute and the London Shakespeare Centre at King’s College London, we began to look at how we could bring our documents to life for an audience that may not be familiar with early modern material. In the early stages of development we invited Professor Gordon McMullan, Dr Lucy Munro and Dr Hannah Crawforth from the London Shakespeare Centre to view the documents. Despite being familiar with the contents from published sources, their reaction to seeing the documents convinced us that displaying the ‘real things’ could inspire fresh insights into a supposedly familiar story. In turn the academics brought an expertise in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre that helped us to situate the documents in their wider theatrical and cultural context. Continue reading »