Christie’s non-selling exhibition, Shakespeare’s First Folio: The First Four Hundred Years, brings together six copies, the largest single display of First Folios assembled in the UK. The group will be on display at Christie’s King Street from May 2-26.
Widely considered the most important literary publication in the English language, the First Folio contains 36 plays, 18 of which may have otherwise been lost to history.
Assembled seven years after Shakespeare’s death by his colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell, among the works that may otherwise have been lost to history without it were Macbeth, Twelfth Night, All’s Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure and Julius Caesar.
Heminges and Condell were also the first to organise the Bard’s plays into the categories of comedies, tragedies and histories.
Only one third of the First Folios that were originally printed survive, it is thought, with many of the 232 copies held in museums.
Christie’s has assembled the six examples from a variety of sources. They include a copy on loan from the University of London (which is the earliest documented First Folio in America) from Senate House Libraries, the Arundel Castle copy (courtesy of the Duke of Norfolk and one of only five complete copies in private hands) and others from private collections in the UK.
Margaret Ford, international head of books and manuscripts at Christie’s, said: “It is a privilege to showcase six copies of The First Folio. No other exhibition in the UK has ever displayed so many copies, four of which have never been shown in public before, and we are incredibly grateful to the owners of these copies for their generous loans.”
Firsts and BADA
On May 20 during Firsts: London’s Rare Book Fair, at Saatchi Gallery in London there will be a talk, in association with the BADA Friends, on the great playwright.
Titled In Love with Shakespeare, it will be presented by antiquarian book dealer Justin Croft and antiquary, broadcaster, writer and BADA Friends chairman Geoffrey Munn who will talk about their love of Shakespeare and how it has influenced their lives.
Bookseller Peter Harrington is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio with the sale of a rare collection of works.
The four Folios, as well as a first edition of Shakespeare’s Poems, are being offered for a total of US$10.5m (£8.76m) but are also available to buy separately.
Read more about this collection in an article from ATG No 2587.
Peter Harrington will also be exhibiting at Firsts.