Shakespeare documents recognised by UNESCO International Memory of the World Programme

PROB 1/4: Will of William Shakespeare, 25 March 1616

PROB 1/4: Will of William Shakespeare, 25 March 1616

Documents created during the lifetime of William Shakespeare and relating to the playwright’s life events, business dealings and legal actions have been recognised on the global stage.

UNESCO’s International Memory of the World programme has added 90 Shakespeare Documents’ to their register of culturally and historically significant items, artefacts and buildings from across the world, which already includes the Egyptian pyramids, the Gutenberg Bible, and the Bayeux Tapestry.

The successful nomination was led by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in partnership with The National Archives, Worcestershire Archives and Archaeology Service, the College of Arms, the British Library and London Metropolitan Archives in the UK, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, USA.

The Shakespeare documents held by The National Archives form the largest collection of its kind and feature nearly half of all known contemporary references to his life – including four of his six known signatures.

Dr Katy Mair, Head of Early Modern Records at The National Archives, said, ‘You often hear it said that we don’t know much about Shakespeare; the personality behind the plays. But it is possible to piece together a substantial amount about his life.

‘Our collection provides a priceless perspective on Shakespeare’s life in London. It shows him appearing as a resident in the Elizabethan city, with the documentary trail then charting his rise in fortune, both professional and financial, reaching the heady heights of success at the court of James I and ending with his famous will.

‘We are pleased to see the global significance of these 400-year-old documents being recognised by the UNESCO International Memory of the World Programme.’

Tags: famous signatures, famous wills, Shakespeare, unesco