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William Shakespeare’s First Folio at NYPL

  • Things to do
  • New York Public Library, Astor Hall, Midtown West
A page reading "The Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet."
Photograph: Courtesy of New York Public Library

Time Out says

The Bard is getting the spotlight in the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures right now. All six of the library's copies of William Shakespeare’s First Folio (Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies) are on display in honor of the 400th anniversary of its publication this year. 

You can see the works now through October 1 as part of the library’s fascinating Treasures exhibition, which is packed with literary and cultural gems. 

Published in 1623, the First Folio saved from oblivion 18 works—including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest—that are among the 36 plays published together for the first time in this book. It is believed that between 700 and 750 copies of the First Folio were printed in 1623. Today, there are only 235 copies still in existence. 

The First Folio is regarded by many as the most important book in the history of English literature. 

Each of the 235 surviving copies of the First Folio is unique. The differences are a result of the printing process—typographical errors were discovered, and corrections made, while the book was going through the hand-press. As a result, there were numerous interruptions, alterations, irregularities, and inconsistencies. Each of the six books on display will be turned to a different page spread to showcase these differences.

Alongside the First Folios, you'll also get to see an early 17th-century etching of London that depicts the venues where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, including the Globe Theatre and the Rose Theatre. 

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan


New York Public Library, Astor Hall
Fifth Ave at 42nd St
New York
Subway: B, D, F, M to 42nd St–Bryant Park; 7 to Fifth Ave

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