Shakespeare 400 and the First Folio

Shakespeare 400 and the First Folio

Forgive the silence of the last week; even I cannot find away to make reorganizing spreadsheets sound fun. Because Excel doesn’t have a native functionality for sorting by call number, it is up to us to sort the sheets for the shelf read. It’s just as charming and delightful as you might imagine.

But! I return with a quick review of “First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare” We went last Saturday but I decided to hold the write up until today, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. For those in New Hampshire (or really anywhere in the Boston area), the place to go is the Currier Museum of Art. The Currier is a great little museum on its own, and New Hampshire residents get in free on Saturday mornings until noon.

When you first enter the museum, the exhibit is to your left (there’s plenty of signage). The Currier is also running an exhibit through their library on potion books from the time of Shakespeare, and that is signed as well.

So I freely admit that I could have elbowed people out of the way to take a picture of the folio, but I didn’t. I thought it was more important to read the exhibit, to actually read the folio, and to explain it to my son. What surprised me was how small it is; the fact is that this volume represents the first time that 18 of Shakespeare’s play appeared in print, but its not that big a book.I grant you, its bigger then a book you’d take on an airplane, but it can be easy to forget that the publisher at the time was just concerned with putting out a book, not a historical artifact. Its immensely cool, nonetheless and well worth a trip.

The Currier’s installation is in their European art wing, so we wandered through those pieces as well:

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Most of the art in there can’t have photos taken, so I only snagged two of the medieval pieces, but they’re quite lovely. The Folio is up until May, but the Potion exhibit the library is running will be up a little longer, and you want to make sure not to miss it either:

 

The exhibit is made up of medical texts and herbologies from the time of Shakespeare. Its also less crowded then the Folio room so you can spend more time looking things over without feeling guilty that you’re blocking others.

You can find a great deal of information on what is out there for celebrating Shakespeare; a quick search of Twitter for #Shakespeare400 will do the trick. For the locals, consider checking out St. Anselm’s marathon reading of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which takes place Monday.

Shakespeare in New Hampshire

Consider this early warning for your spring plans, Shakespeare is coming to New Hampshire!

First, some background. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC holds 82 copies of the First Folio, sometimes referred to as “The Book that gave us Shakespeare.” The First Folio is just that, the first published Shakespeare collection in folio form. There is far more to it then that, though. The First Folio was published in 1623 after Shakespeare’s death and represents the first time his plays were grouped into comedies, histories, and tragedies. It is also the earliest known folio containing a single author’s work.

Oh, and did I mention it is also the first time that 18 of Shakespeare’s plays were first published and thus preserved? If you happen to enjoy As You Like It, the Comedy of Errors, Henry VI part I, Twelfth Night, The Winter’s Tale, or my personal favorite The Taming of the Shrew, you owe their published existence to the First Folio.

At most, 750 copies were printed, with 233 surviving today. You’ll recall Folger has 82. And bless them, they are sending them out into the world so that those of us who cannot make it to DC have the chance to see a First Folio in person. There will be an exhibition in all 50 states throughout 2016.

The first dates of the tour have already wrapped in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Oregon.If you’re heading to Vermont this month, make haste to Middlebury College– they have a copy through Feb. 28. My MLS alma mater, University of Arizona, has a Folio starting tomorrow and running through March 15 for those who have escaped to warmer climes– I don’t begrudge you a bit. The windchill over the weekend was well below zero; we’ve finally recovered.

And New Hampshire? Pencil in April 9 through May 1, my friends. The First Folio will be on display at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester (along side an exhibit on high heels called Killer Heels. How can you not want to see that?) Other New England locations include Brown University in Rhode Island (April 11 – May 1), Amherst College in Massachusetts (May 9-31), and University of Delaware (August 30 – September 25).

Folger also has digital copies available, including downloadable files. Those can be viewed on their website.