Shakespeare’s First Folio goes on display in York

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What is regarded as the “most important” book in English literature, Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio,’ has gone on display in York.

At the time of Shakespeare’s death, in 1616, eighteen of his plays had not reached print, including Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest. They merely existed as handwritten actors’ stage notes and Shakespeare’s own drafts.

Collections facilitator for archaeology Adam Parker viewing the book

Collections facilitator for archaeology Adam Parker viewing the book

In 1623, a compilation of 36 William Shakespeare plays, including these, were published together in one volume. Experts say it is unlikely that any of the plays would have survived without the Folio, which is why it has come to be regarded as the most important book in English literature.

Of the 750 copies originally printed, around 230 survived with fewer than 50 remaining in the British Isles. Only four of these are on permanent public display.

It is on display at the Yorkshire Museum, in York, to coincide with York Literature Festival.

Natalie McCaul, curator of Archaeology, said: “The Skipton First Folio is one of only four copies worldwide that is on permanent display to the public and, taking over two years to print, it is believed that no two copies of the book are the same, which makes it even more special. We hope that the public will be as excited about its arrival as we are.”

The Skipton First Folio is on loan from the Craven Museum and Gallery, Skipton, from today until July 15. The museum will be running a series of events to mark the Folio’s arrival including a Shakespeare film night to be held in June.