Document signed by Shakespeare's granddaughter goes on display - The Leamington Observer

Document signed by Shakespeare's granddaughter goes on display

Leamington Editorial 3rd Jun, 2024   0

A CENTURIES-OLD legal document signed by William Shakespeare’s granddaughter is now on display in Stratford.

This is the first in a programme of rotations of the fragile letters featured in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Hidden Voices exhibition, helping to expand on the stories of the women who influenced the playwright during his lifetime.

Visitors to Shakespeare’s New Place can see the document on display in the exhibition, Hidden Voices: The Women Who Made Shakespeare.

The signature of Elizabeth Bernard, Shakespeare’s first granddaughter, replaces a document showing the seal and mark of Shakespeare’s mother, Mary, which offered a small glimpse into her life.

This first rotation is part of a year-long programme where SBT’s collections team will be changing the signatures on display every couple of months to preserve these delicate objects for future visitors.

SBT curator Emily White said: “As handwritten documents are vulnerable to light damage, it was important for us to rotate the John and Mary document after a period of being on display. We’ll now be putting this item back into our stores, for at least a year, to preserve the historical document for generations to come.’’

Other documents set to go on show include deeds and documents signed and sealed by Shakespeare’s daughters, Susanna and Judith.

These documents are significant because legal letters, including deeds to property, are one of the only ways we know about the lives of women from the period.

Emily added: “These legal documents are special as they link us directly to the immediate women in Shakespeare’s life and highlight a financial role they played in Shakespeare’s, and their own personal lives.’’

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