PRO 30/25/205, Shakespeare's portrait

20 June 2014

A unique series of Shakespeare documents that we hold have been accepted onto the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Register. The papers relating to the playwright's life and work were nominated by us, together with a set from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Clem Brohier, Acting Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives said: 'We are extremely pleased that the Shakespeare documents held here at Kew have been awarded this international recognition. It is testament to their importance not only to the UK but to the wider literary and cultural world. They provide a tangible connection to Shakespeare, allowing us to get closer to a man who died nearly 400 years ago yet continues to have an unparalleled influence on language and culture in the UK and beyond.'

The significance of the 'Shakespeare documents' relates directly to William Shakespeare's unrivalled literary achievements, his status as England's national poet and the global cultural impact of his work. This material has been discovered as a result of painstaking research in the centuries since his death. All the nominated documents are handwritten sources, two of which we hold have Shakespeare's signature on them. This, combined with their historic and cultural significance, underlines their irreplaceability.

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