Shakespeare-inspired home furnishings and toiletries could soon be exported globally as part of the celebrations to mark the Bard’s 400th anniversary. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is working with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) West Midlands to maximise the commercial opportunities presented by the landmark anniversary of the playwright’s death, which falls on April 23.

UKTI helped the Trust to secure a place at the Museum Expressions trade fair in Paris this month, where it showed some of its exclusive products and launched the 'Shakespeare Inspired' ranges that it developed with its new licensees.

Adam Sheratt, Retail Development Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “While most of the Trust's activity for the 400th anniversary is about extending our cultural reach, UKTI is helping us to maximise the commercial opportunities that this year presents. All profits from licensing go back into the charity, helping us to care for the Shakespeare Houses, supporting the internationally important Library and Archive, and funding the Trust’s learning programmes.”

The range of gifts and home items launched by the Trust are inspired by the objects and places that shaped Shakespeare’s life and works. The Shakespeare Inspired toiletries range reflects the scents of the wide variety of flowers mentioned in the works of Shakespeare, and flowers and herbs that grow in our own gardens here in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Fragrances include Romeo & Juliet, which is a fusion of romantic florals and tangy summer fruits, while Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Garden has woody and citrusy tones.

The nightcap pattern on the packaging is inspired by the Jacobean cap in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s collections. The embroidery features symbolic motifs from nature, typical of the period, connected by an elaborate gold stem. The ‘WS’ seal on the packaging is derived from the seal ring in the Trust’s collections believed to have belonged to Shakespeare.

Parminder Hayer, UKTI West Midlands adviser to the Trust, said: “Shakespeare is one of the most famous playwrights in the world and is arguably already one of the country’s best exports. For example, there have been publications and productions of Hamlet in more than 75 different languages.

“Hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the UK and every continent flock to Stratford-upon-Avon every year to connect with the Bard and the anniversary celebrations and new products produced by the Trust present the ideal export opportunity.

“Initial reaction to the products has, as you would expect, been very favourable indeed, and we are only too pleased to work with the Trust to help it maximise its export potential.”

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