Shakespeare’s First Folio: from London to the world - and Leeds!
- Date: Wednesday 3 May 2023, 18:00 – 19:00
- Location: Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre
- Cost: Free. Book online here
What’s so special about Shakespeare’s First Folio? Find out from distinguished Shakespeare scholar Professor Emma Smith.
2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio, the first collected edition of thirty-six plays by William Shakespeare.
Published only seven years after his death, the First Folio is a monument to Shakespeare put together by his fellow actors in partnership with London publishers. This talk traces the afterlife of the First Folio and the ways copies of this book have moved around the world in the centuries since its publication.
Learn about the tumultuous origins of what has become one of the most valuable printed books in the world and hear about what happened to copies of the First Folio after 1623.
Some show how the plays were received in different theatres, others contain doodles and even children’s drawings. Its changing value can be traced as books were rebound and sold for higher prices. Copies formerly owned by aristocrats were bought up by factory owners, including the Gott family from Leeds. English libraries were broken up and sold to wealthy Americans - and in some cases, as with the copy in the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds, came back again!
The talk will take place in the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre. Join us before the talk between 4.30 - 5.30 pm in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery to see the First Folio, talk informally to Emma and other experts in the field, and view other remarkable books from our English Literature collection. There will be a drinks reception after the talk.
Emma Smith was born and brought up in Leeds. She is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford, and the 2023 Sam Wanamaker Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe. Her books include The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio and Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, both with second editions published for the anniversary in 2023. Her This Is Shakespeare was a Sunday Times bestseller.
See the Brotherton First Folio on display in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery from 29 March - 24 June, as part of the Folio400 celebrations.