Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall has welcomed the discovery of a series of 16th century documents that reveal more of the fascinating and colourful life story of John Shakespeare, father of William Shakespeare.

Twenty-one documents have been found in the National Archives by Glyn

Parry, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Roehampton. This exciting find sheds new light onto the world of young William Shakespeare.

The manuscripts reveal that John Shakespeare was accused of illegal money lending and wool dealing, with government informers pursuing him for a number of years. These financial and legal troubles were to last until 1583, when William Shakespeare was 19 years old.

John Shakespeare’s story is one that plays out powerfully at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall as the place where it was known that he made minor appearances in court and was later to serve as Bailif

f (Mayor) of Stratford-upon-Avon, having also held positions including Ale-taster, Constable and Alderman.

The discovery of the documents adds significantly to the knowledge of John Shakespeare and his affairs, and the pressures that the family would have experienced whilst William was growing up.

Lindsey Armstrong, General Manager of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, says, “With its place at the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon society, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall is where the lives of John and William Shakespeare intertwined, so it is to thrilling to discover more detail about their enthralling story.

Through his father’s position as Bailiff, it was here that William was to get his first taste of professional theatre, but we can now also consider what influence his father’s life might have had on William as a writer.”

All of these stories and experiences are brought to life at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall; from William Shakespeare’s school days, early life and influences, to the life of his father, John Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall is open daily from 11am to 5pm, with last admissions at 4:30pm. For further information visit


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