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Shakespeare and his Contemporaries

Shakespeare's Blackfriars Deed

Very few contemporary manuscripts relating to Shakespeare survive. Shakespeare manuscripts at the Folger include his personal copy of the Final Concord for his purchase of New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon and his copy of the deed of bargain and sale for his purchase of the Blackfriars Gatehouse. Richard Stonley's diary records the first known purchase of a work by Shakespeare (Venus and Adonis), and John Ward's diary provides the only known account of Shakespeare's death. Also on display is the earliest known manuscript copy of a work by Shakespeare: Sir Edward Dering's conflated and abridged text of the two parts of Henry IV, written in 1623 for private performance. Documents relating to theater owners James Burbage, Edward Alleyn, and Philip Henslowe and to actor/playwrights Thomas Dekker and Samuel Rowley appear alongside two copies of Thomas Middleton's A Game at Chesse.


This is Shakespeare's copy of the deed for his purchase of the Blackfriars Gatehouse in London, on March 10, 1613. His purchase included free entry through the gate and yard, and also to "all and singular cellars, sollars [attics], rooms, lights, easements, profits, commodities, and hereditaments whatsoever to the said dwelling house or tenement belonging." Despite its convenient location near the Blackfriars Playhouse, the winter headquarters for the King's Men since 1609, the gatehouse dwelling was apparently only an investment for Shakespeare, who lived for the most part at New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Deed of bargain and sale for Shakespeare's purchase of the Blackfriars Gatehouse. Manuscript, March 10, 1613.

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