British Library Celebrates William Shakespeare
Four hundred years after his death, William Shakespeare’s work remains relevant to the 21st century.
To mark the anniversary of the bard’s death, the British Library announced it would be displaying the only surviving Shakespeare script that includes his own handwriting. Come April, visitors to the British Library and The British Library website will be able to catch a glimpse of the very human fingerprint of the world-famous playwright. Collectors will no doubt have an eye on acquiring this item but there is no word on its availability for sale.
The 164-line scene comes from the controversial play, “The Book of Sir Thomas More”. No this is not actually one of Shakepeare’s plays; you did not miss out on the discovery of a lost play!
Shakespeare is believed to be one of six hands who contributed to the relatively little-known play that revolves around how More (himself a prominent author and the Chancellor of England under Henry VIII) stopped a 1517 anti-foreigner uprising in London. Originally written by Anthony Munday between 1596 and 1601, Shakespeare’s contribution to the revised script was identified by his handwriting and vocabulary amongst other factors.
Though there is no evidence that the script was ever performed or published, the passionate speech about xenophobia shows that this is no modern phenomenon. Astute readers will recall that Thomas More is also the central character in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.
The manuscript will be available here and will also be on display at the British Library in London from April 15.