Come, and take choice of all my library

  Our Library & Archive reopens its doors this October for all those who want to research Shakespeare, his works, and our very own history at the Globe

4 minute read

On 18 March 2020, we made the difficult, but responsible, decision to shut our doors, cancelling all performances, tours and education events, in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The closure of our site on Bankside meant the physical doors to our Library & Archive were also closed, restricting access to over 5,000 books on Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

It seems fitting then, that 19 months later, during Libraries Week, the doors to our Library & Archive will open once more this Wednesday 6 October 2021, welcoming visitors, students, scholars and researchers alike to uncover the wealth of resources housed on our shelves.

Our Library & Archive reopens this week, after a 19 month period of closure.

What gems can I unearth in your Collections?

Our Library & Archive grew organically from the Globe’s inception, so we have performance records dating from 1997 when the Globe Theatre opened, to the present day. We also have records that pre-date the opening and tell the story of the development of the Globe and our founder, Sam Wanamaker’s, 23-year struggle to build it. Our Archive also contains records of the construction of the theatre, which was built using 16th Century methods of building and the materials which would have been used at that time. We also have objects relating to the Globe’s Exhibitions over many years.

A sheet a paper detailing the costume list for a scene in Romeo and Juliet with fabric swatches.

Our Library & Archive houses our Performance Archive documenting the creative process behind all Globe productions.

For researchers who want to relive a particular Globe production or uncover more about the creative process of staging it, our Performance Archive is the perfect record of all productions at the Globe. We have film recordings of every production, along with posters, programmes, rehearsal notes, show reports, prompt books and wardrobe notes. We also have recordings of interviews with actors and directors, and recordings of our past Education seminars and lectures.

Exclusive to the Globe and part of our Performance Archive is the beautiful Original Practices costume collection, designed by Jenny Tiramani. Original Practices refers to a unique and radical experiment generated at the Globe and uses historical performance to transform modern theatre practice. As the focus of Early Modern theatre was on costumes rather than sets, Jenny designed clothing based on existing Elizabethan and Jacobean clothing and only used the materials and techniques of that period.

A backstage view of the Globe Theatre where a member of staff helps an actor get in to their Elizabethan dress

Included in the Performance Archive is our Original Practices collection, designed by Jenny Tiramani.

One of Mel Chetwood’s, our Interim Library & Archive Manager, favourite items in our collection is the Prompt Book for the 2014 revival of Titus Andronicus, directed by Lucy Bailey. Notorious for being particularly violent and bloody, this production was infamous for causing numerous audience members to faint at each performance. “The Prompt Book is great because as you go through the pages, you notice drops of fake blood on the pages”, says Mel, and (spoiler), “when you come to the scene where Titus’ hand is cut off, there is a splatter of fake blood across both pages. I love that the Prompt Book mirrors and captures the production in this way.”

How do I visit the Library & Archive?

Our Library & Archive is open on Wednesdays & Thursdays, 10.00am – 1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm.

We’re open and welcome to all visitors, but everyone will need to email [email protected] and fill in an application form to make an appointment in advance. Students will also need a reference from a tutor. Everyone needs to bring a form of ID on arrival.

You can find out more information about visiting our Library & Archive and what to expect on your first visit on our Collections page.

We have over 5,000 books on Shakespeare and his contemporaries…

…and we’re open and accessible to all.

What Covid-19 health and safety measures are currently in place?

As our Library & Archive is a smaller space indoors, we’re asking visitors to email negative lateral flow test results to [email protected] the day before their visit and wear a mask throughout their time spent on site. We also ask you to use hand sanitiser before and after handling books and materials. To allow airflow throughout the space, our windows will remain open and we also have a react-air machine (so be sure to bring a jumper!).

Can I access Library & Archive resources online?

Anyone who is interested in visiting the Library & Archive can search our Library catalogue and the Archive catalogue online to research their area of interest. Our Library & Archive team are also contactable via email on [email protected], and happy to help direct you to additional resources.

Recordings of productions & events and analogue, archive materials can only be viewed here in the Library & Archive, but the digital platform Adam Matthew, to which some Educational Institutions have access, allows digitised Globe Archive documents up to 2016 to be viewed online.

We do not have the resources to enable us to carry out a lot of research on behalf of people who are not able to travel to the Globe, but if you have an enquiry, please do email our team and they will do their best to help you.



After the most challenging year in our charity’s history, we still need our supporters to help us recover.

Please donate to help fund the future of Shakespeare’s Globe.