William L. Clements Library

Past Exhibit


Exhibit at the Great Hall of the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

Shakespeare's Worlds in Maps

Clements Library Exhibit - October 2 - December 22, 2006

The printed cartography of William Shakespeare's lifetime (1564-1616) is the subject of "Shakespeare's Worlds in Maps", a new exhibit at the William L. Clements Library. The exhibit, which will run until December 22, recognizes the visit to the University of Michigan of the Royal Shakespeare Company for performances of Anthony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest. The informal display includes examples of maps of the world, the British Isles, the classical world, and the Americas, produced between 1486 and the early 1600s and all drawn from the library’s rich cartographic collection.
Although William Shakespeare seems to have traveled little, he lived at a time when the expanding medium of print was exposing Europeans to a wider world as exploration, trade, and colonization provided fresh information about other lands, including the Americas. Although it is not known if Shakespeare had seen any of the maps displayed in this exhibit, they are all examples of information that was become increasingly available to educated Britons in his day. The maps address a variety of themes, including the beginnings of English colonization of North America at Roanoke in the 1580s and in Virginia in 1607, current events of Shakespeare’s day. Contemporary maps and accounts of Bermuda are included as well; depicting a place that some scholars maintain served as the inspiration for The Tempest.