City of London
The City of London corporation collaborated with the Barbican centre and Shakespeare's Globe to present 'Shakespeare Woz Ere', an extensive programme of events commemorating 400 years of Shakespeare. Events included a display at the corporation's Heritage Gallery that featured a deed with Shakespeare’s signature, alongside the Guildhall Library’s copy of the First Folio. In addition to this, the Guildhall Art gallery held 'Visscher Redrawn: 1616-2016' and the corporation gave visitors to the city information centre a chance to discover the many fascinating traces of Shakespeare's life and legacy with a self-guided walking tour.
Visscher Redrawn: 1616-2016
Claes Jansz. Visscher's 1616 engraving is one of the most iconic images of medieval London; four hundred years on, artist Robin Reynolds recreated the 6.6ft panorama to depict today’s metropolis.
Both works illustrate the Thames streaming through the centre of the city; a London icon serving the metropolises for many years. The artworks showcase the difference between how the river was used then and now – most notably the volume of boats and the addition of many bridges.
Reynolds' version of modern London, arranged to fit the Visscher landscape, was displayed alongside Visscher’s original print at the Guildhall Art Gallery between February and November 2016.
Shakespeare Son et Lumière
The Guildhall Library and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama hosted a spectacular light and sound production to celebrate the City’s connection to Shakespeare. The historic façade of Guildhall was brought to life with 3D projection mapping technology and a special music composition by the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Shakespeare's London/Beaumont's London
This talk, by Dr. Lucy Munro and held at the Guildhall Library, explored alternative views of London through the works of Francis Beaumont who - like Shakespeare - died in 1616 and whose play The Knight of the Burning Pestle is a hilarious parody of different ways of writing about the city.
Shakespeare and the City of London
The First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays, which has been called the most important work in the English language, was published in November 1623. Shakespeare had been dead some eight years by then, and the book was conceived by two of his fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell as a tribute and memorial. It contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, and is of fundamental importance in establishing the Shakespearean canon. It was printed at the corner of Aldersgate Street and Barbican. Between 750 and 1000 copies are believed to have been printed, which originally sold for between 15 shillings and one pound each. The engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout, used as a frontispiece, has become the seminal image of Shakespeare the man, although its accuracy and authenticity has been much disputed.
Although a First Folio is a great treasure, Shakespeare's deed is arguably a greater one. There may be several hundred Folios surviving, but the City of London Corporation owns one of only six documents in the world bearing Shakespeare’s signature. This is a title deed dating from 1613, when Shakespeare purchased a property in Blackfriars. It was made between the vendor Henry Walker, citizen and minstrel of London on the one part, and William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon, gentleman; William Johnson, citizen and vintner of London; and John Jackson and John Hemmyng, both described as gentlemen of London, on the other part. Shakespeare was the sole purchaser; the men named with him acted as trustees. It is tempting to equate Johnson with the landlord of the Mermaid Tavern, of that name, and Hemmyng may be the John Heminges who helped sponsor the Folio; Jackson’s identity is uncertain.
Laurence Ward, Principal Archivist at the City’s London Metropolitan Archives, said:
“The ‘Shakespeare and London’ exhibition offered people a very rare opportunity to view two of the City of London Corporation’s most valuable items – the signature of the world’s greatest playwright and it seems, a first-time buyer in the London property market, and the 1623 First Folio, which has been described as the most important book in the English language. My colleagues and I at LMA were delighted to play our part in the commemorative programme of events and activities, which included guided walks around the Square Mile, a modern day version of Visscher’s 1616 engraving of post-Renaissance London, and productions at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Barbican Theatre.”
Shakespeare in Print
Taking inspiration from Guildhall library collection, Dr. Peter Ross (Guildhall Library Principal Librarian) looked at the various books printed at the time of Shakespeare's First Folio, the plays and the playwright. His talk included a look at the First Folio itself.