London’s leading cultural organisations to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400-year influence on arts and culture

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Twenty-four of London’s leading cultural, creative and educational organisations, including Senate House Library, are celebrating the life and influences of playwright William Shakespeare throughout 2016 – the 400th anniversary of his death – with a programme of theatre, music, opera, dance, exhibitions and academic collaborations.

The Shakespeare400 consortium, coordinated by King’s College London, will showcase Shakespeare’s creative achievements, his profound influence on culture across the centuries and the impact of his works on a wide range of artistic forms. The season of events will show the ongoing vibrancy and relevance of Shakespeare’s creative influence on today’s national and global culture.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Deborah Bull, assistant principal (culture & engagement), King’s College London said, ‘We are very pleased to have brought together the diverse and dynamic range of partners that make up the Shakespeare400 consortium. The influence of Shakespeare on art, culture and society over the past 400 years cannot be underestimated and this is reflected in the rich array of activities planned for 2016.

‘Some of the partners involved in Shakespeare400 are longstanding and some are new to King’s. I’m delighted they have committed to working with us to ensure that Shakespeare’s quarter-centenary is marked as it should be – for as wide an audience as possible and in a way that doesn’t just commemorate the past, but that also celebrates the present and heralds the future.’

Professor Gordon McMullan, director, London Shakespeare Centre at King’s College London, who is leading on the programme of academic collaborations and engagement surrounding the Shakespeare400 season, said ‘The idea for Shakespeare400 emerged in the aftermath of the World Shakespeare Festival of 2012. I was working on Sir Israel Gollancz and his leadership – and thus that of King’s – of the Shakespeare tercentenary of 1916, and it was obvious that King’s should again lead the celebrations in London.

‘I’m delighted by the remarkable willingness of our cultural partners to be involved in a shared project for 2016. We extended and developed the opening conversations, and the consortium as it is composed today began to emerge. It is, of course, a very exciting time for lovers of Shakespeare across the globe and we are thrilled to be contributing in this way to mark 400 years of Shakespeare-inspired creativity.’

Together, the consortium partners seek both to reflect on four centuries of Shakespeare-inspired creativity across all art forms and to look forward to the next hundred years in the 'global afterlife’ of Shakespeare’s plays and poems.

The season treats all art forms engaged with Shakespeare equally – recognising that Shakespeare’s influence extends far beyond the theatre. A few examples of confirmed programming include:

  • A series of newly commissioned novels, authored by leading contemporary novelists, that retell Shakespeare’s plays in a modern context
  • A vast range of classical and contemporary music from leading London orchestras
  • Brand new Shakespeare-inspired film productions commissioned by Film London, and a Shakespeare season at the BFI Southbank delivered by BFI
  • An anthology of specially commissioned works from leading poets that respond to Shakespeare’s famous sonnets
  • A series of Royal Shakespeare Company performances alongside innovative, contemporary international work
  • A major exhibition at the British Library exploring ten performances that have made Shakespeare the cultural icon he is today
  • A once in a generation exhibition at Somerset House showcasing key documents that reveal Shakespeare’s life in London, including the playwright’s will

All the activities of the Shakespeare400 partners are available to view and book online via The site provides an at-a-glance view of the wide variety of different activities running throughout the season. It will connect performance and production with thinking and analysis, and will serve as a resource and a record for audiences, organisations and higher education in the years to come.

More events will be added to the listings as tickets become available. You can receive alerts via twitter for all upcoming Shakespeare400 events by following @S400events.


If you are interested in the Shakespeare 400 programme of activities, and would like to find out more visit or contact: Oliver Stannard, Marketing and Communications Manager, Culture & Engagement, King’s College London Tel: +44(0)20 7848 1320/ Mob: +44(0)7780 227 019/ Email:

Notes to editors:

1. Shakespeare400 is a consortium of leading cultural, creative and educational organisations, coordinated by King’s College London, which will mark in 2016 the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Through a connected series of public performances, programmes, exhibitions and creative activities in the capital and beyond, partners will celebrate the legacy of Shakespeare during the quater-centenary year.

2. The Shakespeare400 consortium partners are (in alphabetical order):
Barbican, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Bloomsbury Publishing / The Arden Shakespeare, British Film Institute, British Library, City of London , City of London Festival, Film London, Glyndebourne, Guildhall School of Music & Drama , Hogarth Shakespeare – from Vintage Books, King's College London, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Museum of London, Museum of London Archaeology, National Theatre, Rambert, Royal Collection Trust, Royal Opera House, Royal Society of Literature, Senate House Library, Shakespeare's Globe, The National Archives.

3. About culture at King’s College London. Across King’s College London, arts and culture offer distinctive opportunities to students and academics, helping to deliver world-class education and research that drive innovation, create impact and engage beyond the university’s walls. Our partnerships with artists and cultural organisations enhance the King’s experience and, at the same time, add value and deliver benefits across the cultural sector. Building on a long history of partnerships and collaboration, King’s has developed rich programmes of teaching and research that connect students and academics to cultural London and beyond. Across our five campuses and within the extended King's family, there are spaces dedicated to arts and culture, from the 450 seat Greenwood Theatre to the extraordinary Gordon Museum of Pathology. The university’s flagship space for cultural engagement at the Strand, the Inigo Rooms, hosts a year-round programme of activity that connects the public with academic research through artistic collaboration. At the Guy’s Campus, Science Gallery London will open in 2017 – a new and innovative space where science and art collide, engaging 15-25 year olds in cutting edge research and bringing together researchers, students, local communities and artists to stimulate new approaches to contemporary challenges.  The university’s Cultural Institute was established in 2012 to connect King’s with arts and cultural organisations, brokering partnerships that generate new approaches to the sector’s challenges and opportunities as well as collaborative education and research programmes, including unique internships and the annual Cultural Challenge. Culture at the university is under the leadership of Deborah Bull, assistant principal (culture & engagement).

4. About the London Shakespeare Centre at King’s. The London Shakespeare Centre is devoted to research, learning and teaching in Shakespeare and Early Modern studies. The Centre has developed many external partnerships, including those with Shakespeare’s Globe and the British Library, and with London-based theatre directors, companies and artists’ advisers. It offers a range of specialist academic programmes at BA, MA and PhD level as well as summer schools and short courses to promote Shakespeare studies beyond the academic community. The Centre works across disciplinary boundaries, both in teaching and research, forming links with, for example, our academic Departments of History, Film Studies, Digital Humanities, and Culture, Media & Creative Industries. The London Shakespeare Centre also offers a range of public engagement activities including seminars, workshops, conferences and performances. The centre is part of the Arts & Humanities Research Institute, a hub to foster innovative interdisciplinary research across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and beyond.

5. About King’s College London. King's College London is one of the top 20 universities in the world (2015/16 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 26,500 students (of whom nearly 10,400 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and nearly 6,900 staff. The university is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate. The Department of English at King’s has a distinguished international reputation for the study of Shakespeare, with a history of outstanding scholars in the field, from Sir Israel Gollancz to Geoffrey Bullough and, most recently, Richard Proudfoot. It has a commitment to critical work and its range enables it to offer teaching and supervision in three key areas: in the original circumstances and historical contexts for the production of Shakespeare’s works; in the nature of Shakespearean texts and the reproduction and transmission of those texts; and in the subsequent analysis, adaptation and appropriation of Shakespeare around the world. For more information visit ‘King’s in Brief’.