Only playscript in Shakespeare’s hand now online | world | Hindustan Times
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Only playscript in Shakespeare’s hand now online

The British Library has posted online 300 items relating to William Shakespeare, including the only surviving playscript in his hand, making it widely accessible for the first time.

world Updated: Mar 15, 2016 20:37 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Britain is currently celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy.
Britain is currently celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy.

The British Library has posted online 300 items relating to William Shakespeare, including the only surviving playscript in his hand, making it widely accessible for the first time.

The playscript is from the manuscript of a play called “Sir Thomas More”, to which Shakespeare contributed a scene. In the scene, More courageously quells a mob of anti-French rioters who are calling for immigrants to be banished, the library said on Tuesday.

The play, written in approximately 1600 about the life of Henry VIII’s councillor and lord chancellor, was not by Shakespeare and it was not staged because of fears it might incite unrest. The scene is described as a “stirring piece of rhetoric”.

Among the other items posted online by the library are manuscripts, books, maps, paintings, illustrations, pamphlets, ballads, playbills and photos.

The playscript is from the manuscript of a play called “Sir Thomas More”, to which Shakespeare contributed a scene. (British Library)

Britain is currently celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy (his death is recorded on April 23, 1616).

Other highlighted digitised items include a 17th-century manuscript thought to preserve the original tune of one of the Fool’s songs from “King Lear” and Samuel Coleridge’s personal copy of “The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare” with extensive annotations on the plays, including his famous comments on Iago’s “motiveless malignity”.

Alex Whitfield of the British Library said: “From the influential first drawings of Native Americans of the ‘New World’, to depictions of exotic Venice and civil unrest in the streets of London, seeing original digitised artefacts can vividly evoke the political, social and historical times in which Shakespeare was writing, shrinking the gap between the past and the present and bringing the world that shaped his imagination to life.

“Until now, you would have had to visit the British Library Reading Rooms or exhibitions to see these treasures – now Discovering Literature: Shakespeare makes these wonderful research materials accessible to students and lovers of literature everywhere.”