Shakespeare’s famous and rare first folio on show in Birmingham exhibition

One of the most famous and rare books in the world will be on display at the Library of Birmingham later this month.

Shakespeare’s famous First Folio - a book containing 36 of his plays published seven years after his death – will be part of the library’s Our Shakespeare exhibition running from April 22nd to September 3rd.

Published in 1623, the first folio brought together the majority of Shakespeare’s work and without it there would be no copies of more than half of the Bard’s most famous plays - including Macbeth and The Tempest.

There are just 234 known copies of the First Folio in the world – one of which was discovered this week at a stately home on a Scottish island.

News of the discovery of the book, which had languished in the library of Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute for more than 100 years, has sparked interest across the world – with the Bard’s First Folio trending on social media website Twitter.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and the Library of Birmingham is to stage the free Our Shakespeare exhibition, where one of the world’s 234 copies of his First Folio will take centre stage.

Our Shakespeare Curator, Julian Harrison explains:

Without it, we probably would never have been able to read — or even know about — plays including MacbethThe TempestMeasure for MeasureTwelfth NightJulius Caesar, and Anthony and Cleopatra.

Designed for visitors of all ages, the exhibition will feature a colourful range of books, films, posters and photographs. Visitors can explore the story of the man behind Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth, and numerous other plays. They will be also able to listen to recordings of the works of the Bard of Avon in their original pronunciation, and see items owned by Laurence Olivier, Ellen Terry and other famous actors.


Julian Harrison added:

This is a rare and exciting opportunity for people to experience first-hand artefacts, footage and audio that they won’t have seen elsewhere. William Shakespeare is one of Warwickshire’s most famous citizens and this exhibition extends Birmingham’s record of staging innovative events in fantastic locations.

Our Shakespeare is a free exhibition running at the Library of Birmingham from 22 April until 3 September 2016, with a family-themed event on Saturday, 23 April 23.

For more information visit




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