A rare copy of Shakespeare’s first collection has been exhibited in London

A rare copy of the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays was exhibited this Monday in London (UK) on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of its publication. On display in the Guildhall Library, the work is one of the best-preserved versions of the British playwright’s ‘first folio’, which includes such plays as ‘MacBeth’ and ‘Twelfth Night’.

The collection was first published on November 8, 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Peter Ross, the Guildhall’s chief bookseller, decided to exhibit the document “as close as possible to Shakespeare’s birthday”, usually celebrated on April 23, without certainty as to the exact date.

A “magnificent” copy

According to the British Library, approximately 750 copies of the collection were printed at the time. Only 233 survived. The book includes 36 pieces, 18 of which had never been printed before. The collection has thus “saved 18 Shakespeare plays for posterity”, underlines Peter Ross. “Without this first folio, we could have lost most of Shakespeare’s heritage. »

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“We have a little piece of the corner of a page missing, which has been repaired, but apart from that it is a magnificent copy”, adds the bookseller of the Guildhall, proud of the copy on display. According to him, other copies of the “first folio” must be exhibited in 2023 in the United Kingdom but also in the United States and New Zealand.

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