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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Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039.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 However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone.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

ca. 1622
This the fourth edition of Romeo and Juliet. It was printed sometime around 1622 by John Windet for John Smethwicke.
1625
The antiquarian Richard James (1592-1638), fellow of Christ Church College, Oxford, explains in this dedicatory letter to Sir Henry Bourchier why Shakespeare changed the character originally named “Sir John Oldcastle” to one named “Sir John Falstaff” in Henry IV, Parts
ca. 1616- 1630
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1634
On Monday, August 11, 1634, a small military contingent consisting of a captain, a lieutenant, and an ensign left Norwich on a seven-week inspection tour through twenty-six counties of England.
ca. 1625- 1650
William Basse (1583?-1653?) apparently attended Oxford University before entering the service of Francis Lord Norris (or Norreys) (ODNB).

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