Using Birmingham’s forgotten past to inspire our future
Unlocking the world’s first great people’s Shakespeare Library for all

About the Project

The University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council are collaborating on a £1.7 million plan to revive the city’s almost-forgotten Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, housed in the iconic Library of Birmingham - and the first great Shakespeare library in the world, as well as one which from the very beginning has belonged to all the people of the city.

The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project aims to:

  1. Unlock the first, oldest and largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world
  2. Revive and extend its founding principle that culture should be actively owned by everybody
  3. Inspire Birmingham people and communities to explore, interrogate and improve the collection now

The project has been awarded £675,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to open access to the collections and deliver an exciting programme of engaging events for people and communities across the city.

The project is also being generously supported by History West Midlands.

Please visit the Team section for more information on the project plans and for ways of being involved.

Why 'Everything To Everybody'?

One of the founders of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library was the radical preacher and lecturer, George Dawson (1821-1876). Dawson formulated the ‘everything to everybody’ ethos, which fuelled a significant movement for public welfare and cultural participation in nineteenth-century Birmingham, and which historians of the Victorian city from Asa Briggs to Tristram Hunt have acclaimed as a major stimulus to the development of modern civic culture.

Historians of empire such as Catherine Hall have asked important questions about how inclusive Dawson’s vision and nineteenth-century Birmingham really were. In response to this, and to ongoing conversations about Black Lives Matter and the impact of Covid-19, the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project will attempt to reopen Birmingham’s unique Shakespeare heritage with people and communities across the city, identifying historic barriers to inclusion and endeavouring to overcome them.

E2E Response to Black Lives Matter

‘Everything to Everybody’ is a project which aims to be as inclusive as possible. It seeks to work with different communities across Birmingham to revive and extend the city’s unique Shakespeare heritage. It celebrates the fact that Birmingham’s internationally significant Shakespeare collection was founded for the citizens of Birmingham, and it will explore with communities how to make it accessible, relevant, and engaging today.

In the perspective of the current Covid-19 crisis and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, we recognise our own privilege. We understand the need to take a fresh, hard look at our culture and its history, and we undertake to do that in relation to the particular heritage we are focussing on and seeking to repurpose for new times. The decolonization of British history and society is a long-term endeavour, part of the ongoing dismantling of systemic racism. Working constructively and receptively with our partner organisations and people and communities across Birmingham, we will do everything we can to promote that necessary and important change. In response to Black Lives Matter, we will be making concrete anti-racist changes to the project, to be announced in due course.

What Are People Saying?


Twitter: @E2EShakespeare


Instagram: @e2eshakespeare

YouTube: Everything to Everybody

Mailing list: Everything to Everybody

To get in touch please contact Nicola Gauld, Project Manager: