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400 Years of the First Folio

The Great Variety of Readers: An Exhibition

The Great Variety of Readers: Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare’s First Folio


Enjoy a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the creation and enduring legacy of one of the most important books in western literature: Master William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, also known as the First Folio, at our new exhibition for 2023 that celebrates its 400th anniversary.

The story of the First Folio begins at New Place, Shakespeare’s family home from 1597 until his death in 1616. It is the presumed location of where he wrote his will, and indeed some of the plays, the significance of which will be explored in the exhibition.

Discover the Story of the Folio

You will have the opportunity to view three key items that will help you dig deeper into the story of the Folio and its enduring legacy.

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The centrepiece of the exhibition will be an original copy of the First Folio, known as the Ashburnham Folio. It is part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Designated Collection.

Alongside the First Folio you will see a seal ring that bears the initials ‘W.S’ that was discovered close to Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. It is thought to have been worn by Shakespeare.

For the first time you can see a small 17th century notebook that is an example of one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most devoted fans. Filled with quotations and notes on the plays contained within the Folio it is thought this is the first example of an individual studying Shakespeare’s work in detail and highlighting that Shakespeare has always been for everyone.

Access to the exhibition is included in admission price to Shakespeare’s New Place and the Shakespeare’s Story ticket, giving you access to all three of Shakespeare’s family homes for one great price.

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