Marking 1616: A Momentous Year – Shakespeare’s Globe Library & Archive

Posted: Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, Jacqui Grainger (Librarian) and Victoria Lane (Archivist) reflect on a momentous year at Shakespeare’s Globe.

This year at The Globe has been momentous, as the epic theatrical adventure of taking Hamlet to every country on earth, built to a crescendo in early May. This was, of course, in celebration of Shakespeare’s 400 year legacy.

Shakespeare’s Globe was a partner of the Shakespeare400 consortium and one of the hosts of this year’s World Shakespeare Congress. As a partner in the Shakespeare400 consortium, a significant loan from the ‘Original Practices’ collection was made to the British Library’s ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ exhibition and publication. Between 1996 and 2005 Mark Rylance, as Artistic Director, developed ‘Original Practices’ as a radical experiment to replicate the performance practices of Shakespeare’s and Richard Burbage’s Lord Chamberlain’s Men who occupied the original Globe Theatre. The exhibit focused on the all-male production of Twelfth Night, initially staged to mark the 400th anniversary of its first performance at the Middle Temple in 2002, and included three sets of clothes, designed by Jenny Tiramani, from its revival in 2012. This displayed their meticulous, hand-made construction, using Elizabethan and Jacobean methods and historically accurate materials.

The Library & Archives’ unique and distinctive collections are made widely available in the special exhibitions programme of Shakespeare’s Globe.

In two of this year’s exhibitions the stories they tell are complemented by items from other significant collections: Dulwich College, the V&A, University College London, St. Omer and York Minster.

  • Part 1 – Henslowe’s Rose: Theatrical Treasure from Dulwich College, was a narrative of the history of Elizabethan playmaking.  Both Shakespeare and Philip Henslowe died in 1616 and the exhibition took as its starting point the parallel lives of these two theatrical entrepreneurs who were key figures in the development of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre.
  • Part 2 –Shakespeare Rediscovered in St. Omer, 4 July – 4 September, 2016, was an exhibition focused on the publishing and dissemination of Shakespeare’s First Folio, and other contemporary books, throughout Europe. The St. Omer First Folio is indicative of the increasing interest in books published in English across Europe and alongside it were displayed The Workes of King James I (1616) and Samuel Daniel’s The Whole Works (1623), published the same year as the First Folio, both on loan from University College London.
Shakespeare's Globe exhibition of drawings by artist David Gentleman

Shakespeare’s Globe exhibition of drawings by artist David Gentleman, who designed the covers of the Penguin Shakespeare editions and commemorative Shakespearian stamps.

The Globe season was complemented with foyer displays of material from the Library & Archive.

  • In the summer: archives relating to all the Globe’s representations of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Now, our new display examines the character of Iago, highlighting the upcoming production of Othello; beginning with Shakespeare’s source Cinthio’s Gil Hecatommithi (1565) (John Wolfson Collection); photos by Snowdon of the 1959 production at the RSC, part of Sam Wanamaker’s archive, as he played Iago; and ending with the Hip-Hop version of Othello in 2012.
  • There has also been an exhibition of David Gentleman and Shakespeare after the generous gift of drawings of the Globe by the artist. Gentleman notably designed the covers of the Penguin Shakespeare editions, as well as commemorative Shakespearian stamps, in the 1960s-70s.