22 April 2015
Celebrate Shakespeare's birthday on 23 April with a visit to the Bodleian's Marks of Genius exhibition where the Bard's First Folio is on display alongside a host of other Shakespeare-related items.
The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, dating from around 1623. During his lifetime, Shakespeare's plays were never published as a collection. It was only seven years after his death that two of his friends did so, publishing the First Folio. The 1000-page volume contains 36 plays – comedies, histories and tragedies – many of which would otherwise have been lost.
The First Folio is one of many treasures on display in Marks of Genius, the first exhibition held in the Bodleian's newly refurbished Weston Library. In this free exhibition, Shakespeare fans can explore the Gigantic Genius of Shakespeare. In addition to The First Folio, this special section of the exhibition features a copy of Shakespeare's most popular poem, Venus and Adonis, an early edition of Hamlet and works by Shakespeare's contemporaries. These books sit alongside a beautifully illustrated map of London, published in the year of Shakespeare’s death, which shows the Globe Theatre.
Members of the public can also explore a digital facsimile of the First Folio online, launched two years ago thanks to hundreds of donors who supported the Libraries’ Sprint for Shakespeare fundraising campaign. The Sprint for Shakespeare website is a free online resource where visitors can leaf through the original printed pages of the digital First Folio, download text and images and learn more about the eventful history of the Bodleian's copy of the First Folio.
Next year, the Bodleian will be hosting festivities as part of Oxford's celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.