See Shakespeare’s will in London

A photograph of the three sheets of Shakespeare's will in a display caseBy me William Shakespeare, our exhibition telling the story of Shakespeare’s life in London, opens today.

It is being held at the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing and explores the playwright’s life in London as a royal servant, author, friend and father through nine key documents.

The once-in-a-generation exhibition has been organised in collaboration with King’s College London and will run from 3 February until 29 May.

Drawn from our collection of 120 known Shakespeare documents, the most iconic piece on display is the playwright’s last will and testament – from where the exhibition takes its name. In preparation for this year of commemoration and celebration, the will has undergone conservation treatment and analysis to help us better understand Shakespeare’s last days.

By me tracks Shakespeare’s life as a citizen of London, as a businessman, as a family man, and servant to the king and even possibly a thief and a subversive. Four of his six known signatures will be on display, while 59 Productions, the creative team responsible for the video projection design of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and exhibitions such as David Bowie is at the V&A, have created a digital installation.

Welcoming the exhibition’s opening, Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives, said:

‘Although Shakespeare’s life was undeniably an extraordinary one, the details uncovered in this exhibition reveal the life of an “ordinary” person – the life events of a citizen of this incredible city, London. We discover Shakespeare in the way millions of people learn about their own past when they explore an archive.’

To buy your ticket, book in advance from

The exhibition is part of Shakespeare400, a year of events marking Shakespeare’s huge cultural impact. For information and announcements about Shakespeare events and activities at The National Archives, sign up to our free enewsletter.

Tags: by me william shakespeare, Shakespeare, shakespeare's will, william shakespeare