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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilization and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitized collection items and over 40 million pages. 

Terms of use

The British Library has graciously contributed the images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Events at The British Library

Exhibition
Shakespeare in Ten Acts
April 15—September 06, 2016

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this exhibition will reveal ten performances that have made Shakespeare the cultural icon he is today. It is often said that Shakespeare’s work is universal, but this is to ignore the fact that his plays have been constantly reinvented to suit the times.

Documents contributed by The British Library

1609
This is the first edition of Troilus and Cressida. This play was recorded twice in the Stationers’ Company register before it was ever printed.
1609- 1610
The poet and courtier Sir John Harington left behind tantalizing lists of plays written by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Heywood, and others. Around 1609 he compiled two lists of play quartos almost certainly in his personal collection.
April 30, 1610
During a diplomatic visit to England in 1610, the Protestant German prince Louis Frederick Würtemberg attended a performance of Othello--“l’histoire du More de Venise”--at the Globe.
imprinted as 1602, i.e. 1610
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1611
This book is the only surviving play manuscript used by Shakespeare’s company, the King’s Men. It is also the only surviving copy of the play itself, which became known as The Second Maiden’s Tragedy.

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