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Our First Visitors’ Book

Paul Taylor
Our First Visitor Book

We’ve always known that the first entry in the first Visitors’ Book for Shakespeare's Birthplace on 1 July 1812 was written by TH Perkins of Boston, Massachusetts, but further research has added an interesting twist to the tale. 

It appears that not only was Mr Perkins, a notable American merchant, the first person to sign the book but he was the person who came up with the idea of having a book in the first place. 

His journal of 1812 records the following:

“I now put my resolution into execution by buying a quarto blank Book containing about four quires of paper, and giving to be applied to this purpose__ I ruled it, making a column for the date, another for the name and a third for the Residence __ and having written in the beginning of it “Tribute of Respect to the Memory of the Bard of Avon” and furnished the woman with an ink stand and some pens, I subscribed my name, and wished her to deliver the Book when filled to the Librarian of the Town, who is to deposit it in the Library, and furnish another blank Book in its stead.”

— TH Perkins

So, the connection between the Birthplace and one of its early American visitors is even more important than we realised.