Of the hundreds of thousands of documents in our care, William Shakespeare’s marriage bond is probably one of our most well-known. Now this document, along with two others we hold relating to the great playwright, has been recognised by UNESCO as part of an internationally significant collection. In total, ninety documents relating to Shakespeare’s family, business and legal affairs have been added to the International Memory of the World Register. This virtual collection is known collectively as the ‘Shakespeare Documents’ and together they are key sources for William Shakespeare’s biography.
We worked in partnership with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, The National Archives, the College of Arms, the British Library, the London Metropolitan Archives and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C, USA.
The Worcestershire documents are part of the vast collection of the Diocese of Worcester which we hold, and contribute to the story of Shakespeare’s personal life in Stratford rather than his literary life in London.
The bond for the marriage of Anne and William, and the subsequent recording of the marriage licence in the Bishop of Worcester’s register of 1582, show the process through which the couple sought to marry, their connections and their circumstances at the time.
The will of Thomas Whittington specifically requests that William’s wife Anne distributes money to the poor of Stratford.
We are very proud of our Shakespeare connections, and are delighted that the collection documents relating to his work and his life are being recognised in this way.