A copy of the Bard’s First Folio will go on display at Guildhall Library for one day this month, as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of Shakespeare’s most famous works.
The City of London Corporation, which owns the library and the First Folio, will display the book on Monday 24 April for a limited period (10.30am to 3.30pm), accompanied by a 10-minute introductory talk about the First Folio given on the hour throughout the day.
Two small and original copies (Quartos) of Henry IV Part One and Othello will also be on display, next to a replica copy of the First Folio that visitors will be invited to look through.
Published in an edition of around 750 copies on 8 November 1623 – seven years after Shakespeare’s death – the First Folio brought together 36 plays in one volume.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Wendy Hyde, said: “The First Folio is a truly remarkable book and for five precious hours, everyone will be given the rare opportunity to see it up close at Guildhall Library, as part of our ‘First Folio 400’ celebrations.
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“I share my library colleagues’ pride in our ownership of the book, which has been conserved by the City Corporation as a valuable heritage asset for the benefit of future generations.”
It is believed that the City Corporation’s copy was purchased in around 1760 by one-time Prime Minister, William Petty Fitzmaurice, after which it was bought by the London Institution at the sale of his library in 1806.
The book was transferred to Guildhall Library in 1913, following the closure of the London Institution in 1912.
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