London – Where 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. To commemorate the quarter-centenary anniversary, the City of London Heritage Gallery is delighted to display Guildhall Library’s copy of the First Folio (on display until 31 March 2016).
The First Folio – ‘Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies’ – was published in November 1623, it contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays and was prepared by two of Shakespeare’s colleagues, John Heminges and Henry Condell, after his death.
Some may spot that only 35 plays are listed in the Folio’s contents. The play omitted from this list is ‘Troilus and Cressida’ which was included at the 11th hour. In fact, the first few copies were sold without its inclusion. Additionally, the play ‘Pericles’ is missing entirely, most likely because the compilers were unable to obtain a copy they could freely use.
Guildhall Library’s copy of the First Folio can be traced back to c. 1760 when it was acquired by William Petty Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (1737-1805), a great patron of the arts. At the sale of his library in 1806 it was purchased for the London Institution which had been founded in that year “for the Advancement of Literature and the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.” Guildhall Library acquired the Folio in 1912 by transfer from the London Institution. It has recently been described by a Shakespeare scholar as amongst the five finest copies of the First Folio in existence.
For more events commemorating Shakespeare400, check out the exciting and varied Shakespeare woz ere programme.