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Heritage Open Days - Florio's Second Frutes

Join us this weekend (9 - 10 September) for Heritage Open Days, where you too could try out some intriguing dialogues from a language learning book from 1591...

Victoria Joynes
Jessie, Madeleine and Victoria in the Reading Room
Jessie, Madeleine and Victoria dressed for their travels

This year for Heritage Open Days we are displaying items from our collections using the theme Travels through Europe. The display will be in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Shakespeare Centre on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September from 10am to 4pm. 

As well as collections of original archive materials, museum items and early books we will be hosting activities for visitors to engage with (only those that wish to!) this includes dressing up and maybe a bit of role play using an early language learning book, John Florio's Second Frutes.

Florio Second Frutes
SR 96 - John Florio's Second Frutes. 1591

John Florio is perhaps best known for his translation of Montaigne’s Essais, published in 1603 and so well written that it was the chosen version even of Shakespeare’s contemporaries who could read French. Shakespeare is known to have used Florio's translation for parts of The Tempest and King Lear. Florio's Second Frutes takes the form of a parallel-text dialogue book encouraging people to learn from real life situations rather than through grammar and exercises.  It is interesting to compare modern phrase books that we take on holiday with Florio's book, have you ever looked at the phrase book and thought, 'I'm not sure when I would ever need to say that'? Well Florio's book is full of such conversations. In this video we demonstrate the dialogues for going to the shops, at the haberdasher's and a rather thorough morning greeting. The conversations are full of proverbs and sayings as well as useful phrases.

We have only been reading the English dialogues of course, if you are an Italian speaker, you can come along and have a go at the Italian pages too. We will have these dialogues printed out ready for willing participants to attempt and if you are feeling theatrical, we will also have costumes for dressing up and of course the original book to view in the display. 

Florio Second Frutes page
Italian and English pages in Florio's Second Frutes

There will be so much more to see in our displays and you can find out more in our previous blog post. We hope to see you there!

Thanks to Madeleine and Mary for their performances in the video and to Nicola for our lovely costumes and props. 

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