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A first edition Shakespeare text from 1623 has gone on display

It's a rare chance to see original copies of the Bard's work

India Lawrence
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India Lawrence
Contributing writer
First edition Shakespeare book
Photograph: Getty
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Huzza! A rare first edition of Shakespeare plays published in 1623 has gone on display to the public. The book, containing all of Shakey P’s plays, was published seven years after the Bard’s death. It will be put on show at Guildhall Library for the book’s 400th anniversary. 

There will also be two smaller original copies of ‘Henry IV Part One’ and ‘Othello’ on display, as well as another folio of plays. While this copy isn’t for sale and will remain in the library's possession, another similar edition was sold for $10 million (£8m) in October 2020. The book is rarely available to see for the public because of its fragile nature. 

Principal librarian of Guildhall Library, Peter Ross, told the BBC: ‘There were around 750 copies of the first edition printed and around 235 survive today.

‘Only a quarter of those copies are complete and amongst the best in the world is this one. It's remarkable for its completeness and quality of paper.’

The book was compiled by two of Shakespeare’s friends, actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, as a tribute to the late playwright. It’s thought that had the two men not collected the plays for the book half of them, including some of Bill’s most famous works like ‘Macbeth’, ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Tempest’, would have been lost forever.

Long live the Bard!

An immersive Shakespeare museum is opening in Shoreditch next year.

There’s a huge immersive street art exhibition coming to Camden.

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