The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world. Among its 150 million plus items are many that relate to the Mayflower in British culture – from 19th century poetry and novels to 20th century commemorative brochures and pilgrim biographies. Many are beautifully illustrated – testament to the enthusiasm for the voyage in popular culture. We are partnered with the Eccles Centre for American Studies, who are based at the Library. They are working with our research team to help us find and understand these many different publications. We are also co-organising a programme of public events – from workshops about relevant Library collections to public debates on the importance of the Mayflower pilgrims today – for the upcoming 2020 commemorations.
The Mayflower Theatre is based in Southampton – one of the ports from which the Mayflower set sale. Originally the Empire Theatre, until it took on the name of the famous ship in 1987, it is biggest theatre on the south coast. Unsurprisingly there is a groundswell of enthusiasm for celebrating and commemorating the Mayflower in Southampton – as there has been for over a hundred years. One of the most exciting plans in the city is the creation of a series of musicals, to be performed at the Theatre, that engage with or re-imagine the original 1620 voyage. Our research team will be working with the casts of these musicals to show them how there historical forebears in the arts thought about the story of the Pilgrims, and recording oral interviews as they rehearse and then perform. We will also be offering our expertise to other local organisations in the Southampton area as they plan their 2020 events.