Professor Grace Ioppolo writes:
Since 2011, I have been one of the two academic representatives to the User Advisory Group at The National Archives, Kew (known as TNA), which is the official archive, or library, of the UK government. As a member of the Advisory Group, I make recommendations to TNA’s administrators and staff about the use, aims and procedures of TNA. But for many years before 2011, I was an avid and enthusiastic user of TNA, which was called the Public Record Office when it was located in Chancery Lane in London.
Although many people now visit TNA in-person or online to research their ancestry, scholars of UK history, law, literature, politics, culture and other fields have for over 150 years painstakingly trawled through the original copies of State Papers and other collections to support their research. In my case, the State Papers in the age of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I, as well as Chancery Rolls, Pipe Rolls, legal depositions and other collections, have given me the contextual information about the performance, production, patronage and censorship of early modern drama that enables me to do Shakespearean theatre history.
April 23, 2014, marks the 450th birthday of Shakespeare (hooray!), and although you may not know it, TNA’s millions of pages of manuscripts include much more Shakespearean material than his famous will. To read my blog celebrating Shakespeare at TNA, follow this link, and raise a glass of champers (or ale), and munch on a capon (or chicken) leg in praise of the birthday of the greatest writer who ever lived: