A Shakespeare First Folio collection of plays is now on display at the Bodleian's Weston Library in Oxford.

The First Folio was the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays and was published in 1623.

The display at the Weston Library in Broad Street, which runs until May 14, has been curated by Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare Studies at Oxford University.

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She is also a Fellow of Hertford College.

The display at the Bodleian is part of Folio400, a nationwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's First Folio.

There will also be displays at The Queen's College and Wadham College on April 23.

Shakespeare’s First Folio is one of the great wonders of the literary world.

Published in 1623, seven years after the death of its author, it is the very first printed edition of his collected plays in one folio-sized volume.

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Without the First Folio, readers would have lost half of Shakespeare’s dramatic works, including Twelfth Night, Macbeth, The Tempest and Julius Caesar. Without the book readers wouldn’t know what Shakespeare looked like.

Four centuries on from its publication, just 235 copies of the First Folio are known to have survived.

Folio400 is a major project, conceived and launched by Folio-fan Marcus Coles in collaboration with Dominic Dromgoole, former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe and Prof Smith.

Folio400’s purpose is to encourage and promote the celebration of the First Folio’s 400th anniversary.

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At least 20 First Folios will be on public display. There will be one in Ireland, one in France, two in Germany and even one as far away as Auckland.

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Find out where and when you can see a First Folio near you by visiting the Folio400 website:


For more information regarding the First Folio, and a rundown of all the Celebration 2023 events, visit www.folio400.com

This includes a comprehensive and accessible website (www.folio400.com), a documentary, a feature film, exhibitions, a monument and the publication of numerous First Folio-themed books.

Folio400 aspires to be as inclusive as the book whose birthday it celebrates. 

Throughout the ‘Folio Season’ (running from April 22 to November 8, the registration date of the First Folio), private owners and institutions are coming together to display their folios around the country, for the public to view (nearly all for free).  

In 2016, staff at Blackwell's Rare Books department were selling a Fourth Folio for £85,000.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF