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“Most important” book in English Literature Comes to York

The “most important” book in English literature, Shakespeare’s ‘First Folio’, is on its way to the Yorkshire Museum to coincide with York Literature Festival.

At the time of Shakespeare’s death, in 1616, 18 of his plays had not reached print, including Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest. They merely existed as handwritten actors’ stage notes and Shakespeare’s own drafts.

In 1623, a compilation of 36 William Shakespeare plays, including these, were published together in one volume.

It is unlikely that any of the plays would have survived without the Folio, which is why it has come to be regarded as the most important book in English literature.

Of the 750 copies originally printed, around 230 survive with fewer than 50 remaining in the British Isles. Only four of these are on permanent public display.

Natalie McCaul, curator of Archaeology, said:

“The Skipton First Folio is one of only four copies worldwide that is on permanent display to the public and, taking over two years to print, it is believed that no two copies of the book are the same, which makes it even more special. We hope that the public will be as excited about its arrival as we are.”

The Skipton First Folio will be coming to the Yorkshire Museum from the Craven Museum and Gallery on March 27 until July 15 in an exchange for the Yorkshire Museum’s recently acquired Gold Torcs.

This will be the first time that the Gold Torcs will be on public display outside of the Yorkshire Museum.

The three remaining Folios are on display at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, the British Library in London and the Folger Library in Washington D.C.

The Yorkshire Museum will be running a series of exciting events to celebrate the arrival of the Folio including an after-hours Shakespeare film night to be held in June at the Yorkshire Museum.

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