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The libraries were founded in the last half of the 19th century and were amalgamated in 1964 when they were housed in the purpose-built Shakespeare Centre.
They hold collections covering all aspects of Will Shakespeare's life, works and times and include original editions of his plays dating from 1623.
Early Printed Books
Some of the earliest printed English books are housed here.
The theatrical history of the Shakespearian canon and development of early theatre in England to the present day. Text and studies of modern drama form a major part of the collections. Also included is the Bram Stoker Collection
The Production Records of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Containing a major part of the Shakespeare Centre collections containing archival records of every RSC production in London, on tour at home and abroad as well as in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Includes manuscripts, programmes, prompt books, music, designs and photographs.
The Thomas F. Holte and Joe Cocks Studio Collections
Fine photographic records of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre's and Royal Shakespeare Company's Stratford-upon-Avon productions from 1852-1991.
Houses important local history collections - printed and manuscript, relating to Stratford-upon-Avon and south Warwickshire.
Outstanding Collections in Shakespeare’s home town
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust cares for the world's largest collection of Shakespeare related material accessible by the public. Situated in the centre of Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, our Collections have been designated as being of international importance.
Our Collections include:
Printed materials and books relating to Shakespeare’s works life and times, including translations of the plays into over 80 languages. Within our library collection we look after three First Folios and a range of important early printed books, which inspired Shakespeare’s genius.
Local History Archive Collection
Material relating to Stratford-upon-Avon and South Warwickshire, with records as far back as the twelfth century and a number of handwritten documents referring to William Shakespeare from his own lifetime.
We also have copies of the Stratford Herald dating back to 1861 (microfilm / bound volumes).
Over 11,000 objects, which give an insight into the material world that Shakespeare and his family would have experienced, as well as a record of how his life and works have inspired art and tourism over the past few centuries.
Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Archive
Photographs, programmes, designs and production records covering the history of the RSC and its predecessor, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, from 1879 to the present. The theatre's collection also includes a wealth of pre-twentieth century theatre ephemera relating to London and other regional theatres, including the Bram Stoker Collection.
Accessing our Collections online
Browse our Treasures pages which introduce some of our most celebrated items:
Or delve deeper and explore the whole span of our collections using our Online Catalogues:
For blog-posts, videos and article series from our dedicated Collections team, check out our blog at Finding Shakespeare:
Visiting our Collections
Whether you are studying Shakespeare, interested in performance history or researching your family history, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust provides a Reading Room which is open to everyone and free of charge.
Every year we welcome readers and groups from all over the world who access books, maps, archival documents, newspapers, performance photographs, videos of Shakespeare productions and much more.
The Reading Room is located within the Shakespeare Centre on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon. Our normal opening hours are:Wednesday to Friday: 10.00am – 4.30pm
Saturday: 9.30am – 12.30pm
Sunday to Tuesday: Closed
It is possible to arrange access to the collections outside normal opening hours, with plenty of notice.
Christmas and New Year Opening Hours 2014
We will be providing a Reading Room service from 10am-4.30pm on Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd of December 2014 and will then close for Christmas and New Year, re-opening and resuming our normal opening hours on Friday 2nd January 2015. If you would like your items to be ready for your arrival, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org".
Enquiries for further information should be addressed to: