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Photo Archive at Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published April 21st 2020
Everything to Everybody Project opens up archives to public
With the Coronavirus lockdown preventing people from exploring historic sites, a new project is opening up historic photo archives from the famous Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library to the public online.

Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, photo archive, historic buildings in Birmingham, everything to Everybody project
Stunning features in the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library


The Everything to Everybody Project will let people see 50 never before seen images from the world-renowned library online and on social media.

It kicks off with the first image to coincide with Shakespeare's birthday on April 23.

Founded in 1864, Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library - now housed within the Library of Birmingham - was the world's first great Shakespeare library.

It is Britain's most important Shakespeare collection with over 40,000 volumes, including a copy of the First Folio of 1623. It also features 17,000 production photographs that capture theatrical, film and televised Shakespearian performances from around the world.

Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, photo archive, historic buildings in Birmingham, everything to Everybody project
The Library has artefacts like folios of Shakespeare's work


The first of 50 photos to be released shows Max Reinhardt's 1935 film A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring James Cagney as Bottom, the child-star Micky Rooney, and Olivia de Havilland in her first Hollywood film. And more photos are set to follow on the project website and social media accounts.

To coincide with the photo release, Birmingham-based Actor Adrian Lester and Project Director Professor Ewan Fernie can also be heard talking about the project on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking programme at 10pm on Thursday April 23 here. It can be listened to again after it has aired.

Tom Epps, Cultural Partnerships Manager, Library of Birmingham said: "The production photographs were a gift to the City's Shakespeare Library and we are delighted that on Shakespeare's birthday we can share this gift with the people of Birmingham.

Adrian lester, Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, photo archive, historic buildings in Birmingham, everything to Everybody project
Birmingham actor Adrian Lester will be talking about the Everything To Everybody Project

"It's a peek inside our archives whilst libraries are temporarily closed to the public. Over the life of the project we plan to share 50 specially selected items that illustrate the breadth and variety of the Shakespeare collection. It's the greatest public Shakespeare library in the world and it all belongs to the people of our city."

The Everything to Everybody Project is an ambitious three-year celebration of one of the UK's most important cultural assets - the vast Shakespeare Memorial Library. It is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council, with funding contributed by National Lottery Heritage Fund and History West Midlands.

Find out more about the project and photo archive at the Everything to Everybody website.

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Why? See photos from archive of most important Shakespeare Library in UK online
When: Anytime
Where: Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Broad St, Birmingham, B1 2ND
Cost: Free
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