Our Story

The Shakespeare Centre Library Reading Room


The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has a long and famous tradition of welcoming visitors from across the globe to Stratford-upon-Avon on a personal journey to discover where Shakespeare lived and his legacy continues. Celebrating Shakespeare is at the heart of everything we do. We enrich the lives of millions of people of all ages and backgrounds, providing a global cultural meeting place where everyone can share in the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works. The Trust receives no public subsidy or direct revenue funding, and depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends.


Our History




Formed in 1847 following the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace as a national memorial, we care for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites - the five beautifully preserved homes and gardens directly linked to Shakespeare and his family in Stratford-upon-Avon. Their fascinating stories have been attracting visitors from all over the world for centuries. Today, a tour of these houses takes you on a natural journey through Shakespeare’s life from his birth at the house on Henley Street, to his mature family home and eventual death at New Place, and onto his final resting place at Holy Trinity Church across the town.

More about Shakespeare's family homes.


World class collections

There is much more to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust than meets the eye. Behind the doors of the vaults lies the world’s largest and most important Shakespeare-related museum, library and archives, with over 1 million documents, 55,000 books and 12,000 museum objects. We also care for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s archive of theatre records, as well as an extensive local history archive of Stratford-upon-Avon and South Warwickshire, with records dating back to the twelfth century. So rare and priceless is the collection, it has been designated as being of international importance. The collections and archives is accessible to the public via our website or by visiting the Reading Room at the Shakespeare Centre here in Stratford-upon-Avon.

More about our collections.


Learning for all

The Trust runs a world-class, award winning programme of formal and informal educational programmes and literary lectures for schoolchildren right up to adult learners to encourage the appreciation and study of Shakespeare’s works, and the advancement of Shakespearian knowledge on an international scale. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is also headquarters of the International Shakespeare Association, providing an opportunity for individuals and institutions to join together to further the knowledge of Shakespeare throughout the world.

More about learning at SBT.