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

Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library

Explore a series of materials introducing the world-leading but too-much-forgotten Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library. Housed in the iconic Library of Birmingham, it is the first, oldest and largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world, as well as one of the UK’s most important cultural assets.

‘Everything to Everybody’ Project Themes

Project Director Professor Ewan Fernie introduces the 6 core themes of the project. Each of the themes offers a way of ‘slicing through’ the collections. Each brings (1) elements from Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare collection together with (2) the uniquely progressive historical ethos of democratic inclusion it expresses, offering (3) a meaningful point of connection for Birmingham communities now.

These themes are intended as useful background information for people and communities to use and build on as they wish. We welcome new responses to Birmingham’s forgotten Shakespearean heritage.

George Dawson

Get to know George Dawson! A radical preacher, lecturer and activist, George Dawson founded the Library as part of a pioneering ‘Civic Gospel’, which helped make 19th-century Birmingham the world’s most progressive modern city.

International Interest

Professor Tobias Döring - former President of the German Shakespeare Society, the oldest national Shakespeare society in the world - reports on the extraordinary wealth and sheer extent of the German material held in Birmingham’s world-significant Shakespeare Library.