Shakespeare on Light Night

Performers made the exhibition ‘For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire’ come alive for Light Night

On the evening of Friday 7 October, visitors to the exhibition ‘For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire’ at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery heard the exhibition come to life as performers moved around the gallery reading monologues and poems from the works on display. The event was part of the city’s annual Light Night activities alongside other events taking place all over the University campus.

Melissa Ulrich, Hannah Hughes and Mary-Margaret Annab, students in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, performed monologues by Shakespeare characters including Juliet, Kate and Miranda, as well as some of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The 1640 edition of Shakespeare’s poems on display in the exhibition groups the sonnets into longer poems which are given titles. The event was the first time that the gallery space has been used for performances and visitors enjoyed hearing as well as seeing the historic works.

The events programme, including a range of talks and workshops, can be found on the Treasures Gallery website. The next dramatic interpretation of a play shown in the exhibition is on Wednesday 2 November, when visitors can discover a rarely performed slice of Yorkshire history. Join the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery and students from the University of Leeds stage@leedscompany for a unique experience as they perform a rehearsed reading of ‘A Yorkshire Tragedie’. Two performances are taking place on 2 November, the first at 12.30 and the second at 6pm.

‘A Yorkshire Tragedie’, written by Thomas Middleton, but long attributed to William Shakespeare, tells the 1605 story of Walter Calverley, who killed his two young sons and stabbed his wife. A rare copy, printed in 1619, is currently on display in the ‘For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire’ exhibition.


Shakespeare is here!

Earlier this month we welcomed the poet Ian McMillan to Leeds to launch our new exhibition at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery.


We’ve been bowled over by the popularity of our latest exhibition, For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire,  in the Treasures of the Brotherton. Over 1000 visitors have already been to see the rare Shakespeare items left to Leeds University Library by Lord Brotherton of Wakefield. All four 17th-century folios are on display alongside other books that help reveal the history of Yorkshire.

We opened the exhibition in style on 6 September with poet Ian McMillan’s barn-storming introduction to the display, which brought the house down. The Bard of Barnsley encouraged us to “cut the endless ribbon of Literature with the rusty scissors of criticism” and embrace two of his favourite words; “Shakespeare and Yorkshire”. Ian had the crowd whooping and almost stampeding to see all four of Shakespeare’s folios up close.

Outside the Gallery, two giant posters of Shakespeare’s head comprising of mini Shakespeare heads that visitors had coloured in ‘by number’ provided a backdrop for feedback on Post-It notes. “Inspiring”, “fascinating”, and “mind-blowing” were just a few of the adjectives used to describe people’s reaction to the exhibition.

It’s also been exciting to see regional and even international coverage of the exhibition, especially when the news items feature interviews by our incredibly talented guest curator, Kit Heyam.  Our most surprising appearances so far have been in the Irish Examiner online and the Republika online (which we think is Indonesian!) We must also thank local press such as Radio Leeds, Made in Leeds TV and the Yorkshire Evening Post for splashing us across their channels and newspapers.

People’s continuing passion for Shakespeare proves that the Bard truly is “for all time”.


These are just some of the exciting programme of events on a Shakespearean theme we have arranged to accompany the exhibition:

30 September

Kit Heyam, co-curator of the exhibition, will be giving a talk entitled “Notorious kings and Yorkshire tragedies: what Shakespeare and his contemporaries did with English history”. From cautionary tales to opportunistic gossip, Kit will examine how English history was used – and abused – by early modern writers.

11 October

Members of Leeds Baroque will mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a performance of music linked to the famous commemorations held at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769.

26 October

Michael Brennan and Mark Westgarth will be presenting a talk on “Re-reading and Collecting Shakespeare”, exploring the fascinating and sometimes bizarre collecting of Shakespearean items during the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can find out about all these events and many more, including how to book your place, in the Events section of our website. Events are free but booking is essential.

Our exhibition runs until the end of January 2017. We look forward to welcoming you to the Gallery!

All change in the Treasures Gallery!

It’s a busy July and August in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery.


In July and August we celebrated a few milestones. During the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July we welcomed our 10,000th visitor to the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery – we think it was someone who attended our special lecture on digital learning resources, several of which focus on the medieval holdings in Special Collections.

The 1st of August marked our six-month anniversary and was also the day that we de-installed our first temporary exhibition, On Conscientious Grounds: Objection and Resistance in the First World War. This moving and thought-provoking display explored the experiences of conscientious objectors and their families and friends, through letters, artwork, diaries, postcards and personal items. These materials will be checked by our conservation team and returned to storage where they will be available once more for consultation by readers and researchers. We are planning an online resource bringing together text and images from this exhibition. It will be available on our website later in the year.

Preparations are well under way for our next temporary exhibition, For All Time: Shakespeare in Yorkshire. Opening in September, this special exhibition will explore the relationship between Shakespeare and Yorkshire. Four hundred years after the death of the Bard, we will be putting on public display for the first time the rare Shakespeare materials left to Leeds University Library by Lord Brotherton. Lord Brotherton of Wakefield (1856-1930) was one of the country’s leading private collectors of rare books and manuscripts. On his death he left his remarkable collection to the University, including the “holy grail” of book collecting, the four 17th-century Shakespeare folios. He also collected “apocrypha”, books that had Shakespeare’s name on the title page but were in fact by other writers. These include A Yorkshire Tragedie, telling the story of a murder in Calverley in 1605.

The exhibition will look at how Shakespeare dramatised Yorkshire history, and explore how directors today are still using his work to ask questions about regional identity.

The formal launch event will take place on Tuesday 6 September, and all are welcome to attend.

We look forward to seeing you there!