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.