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Shakespeare’s will returns home

Back for the first time in 400 years

Paul Taylor
Shakespeare's Original Will
PROB 1/4 Will of William Shakespeare 1616 © Crown copyright – Image courtesy of The National Archives

We are delighted to welcome one of the most important original documents relating to William Shakespeare back to Stratford-upon-Avon this summer. As far as we can tell it is the first time that his original will has returned to Stratford-upon-Avon since his son-in-law John Hall took it to London in late June 1616 to get a Grant of Probate.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has been working together with The National Archives to display the will as part of our Shakespeare's Stratford Friends exhibition at the Shakespeare Centre for a short time from 16 July - 4 August, coinciding with the World Shakespeare Congress taking place. The National Archives have undertaken a great deal of research and conservation work on the will and this will be reflected in our display. We will also be linking the will to a near contemporary copy in our own collection which will be displayed at New Place when it reopens.

The will contains three of his known signatures and leaves most of his estate to his daughter Susannah Hall. Famously the will also leaves the second-best bed to his wife Anne, and we'll tell you more about this and his other bequests in other blogs.

We are delighted to be able to display the will as part of the commemorations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and look forward to welcoming you all to see it for yourselves.

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