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By Me William Shakespeare

Somerset House, London


A unique map of london that rewinds in time from 2016 to 1616

A unique exhibition of carefully selected documents relating to Shakespeare’s life, By me William Shakespeare was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see the playwright’s last will and testament.

Academics from the London Shakespeare Centre at King’s – the world’s foremost centre for the study of Shakespeare – and record specialists at The National Archives carefully selected the nine most nationally important documents held by The National Archives relating to Shakespeare’s life. Presented together for the first time, they represented some of the most significant documents in the world that track Shakespeare’s life as a citizen of London, a businessman, a family man and servant to the King and even possibly a thief and a subversive. Through these documents the exhibition explored both his domestic and professional lives, what it meant to live in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras and the social impact of his plays.

59 Productions was commissioned to create an original artwork for this exhibition. The piece, a unique map of London that rewinds in time from 2016 to 1616, bridges present and past, illustrating both the modern city we see today and the one that Shakespeare lived and worked in. The piece combined printed illustration, projection and sound design to create a visually dynamic and engaging visitor experience.

The map traced the stories of the various documents on display in the exhibition, bringing them to life using animation and sound design. In some cases, the map followed the physical journeys that the documents made, tracing their paths as they move in and out of London.  The installation also drew its inspiration from various archival sources, including the Civitas Londinum – a copy of which is held by The National Archives at Kew. The result was a multifaceted exploration of how place and status affected the life of the world’s most famous playwright.

Opened 2016

Inigo Rooms Somerset House, London

A unique video installation depicts an animated map of Shakespeare’s London. The sounds of the city are immersive and evocative of a bygone era. A spotlight moves over significant locations, including Bankside – a centre for entertainment in the capital, and the house in Cripplegate where the writer lived as a lodger.
The Archives has taken the unprecedented step of collaborating with King’s College London to bring the precious papers to a wider audience as part of this year’s national celebrations of Shakespeare’s life … The exhibition also features a video installation by 59 Productions, the company behind the visuals used in the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, showing London as Shakespeare would have seen it
…it is worth a visit simply for the sense of wonder that comes off these pages.


Curatorial Team
Gordon McMullan (Shakespeare 400/King’s College)

Katy Mair (The National Archives)

Hannah Crumme (The National Archives)

Lucy Munro (Shakespeare 400/King’s College)

Exhibition Design
Martin McGrath Studio

Installation Design
59 Productions

Project Producer
Sophie Cornell (Cultural Institute, King’s College)

Head of Programming
Leanne Hammacott (Cultural Institute, King’s College)

Produced by
King’s College

59 Team

Richard Slaney

Creative Associate
Akhila Krishnan

Animation and Map Design
Lawrence Watson

Sound Designer
Gareth Fry

Production Manager
James Roxburgh

Technical Associate
Maximilien Spielbichler

Junior Animator and Designer
Matthew Taylor