Shakespeare First Folio back in safe storage after making exhibition of itself - The Stratford Observer

Shakespeare First Folio back in safe storage after making exhibition of itself

Stratford Editorial 29th Nov, 2023   0

SHAKESPEARE’S First Folio has been put to bed in Stratford after a year of celebration.

As part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s ‘Folio at 400’ celebrations, The Great Variety of Readers exhibition at New Place attracted thousands of visitors of all ages from around the world.

The centrepiece of the exhibition was the so-called Ashburnham First Folio, an original copy of the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays acquired by the SBT in the 19th century.

It remains one of the most important items in SBT’s world-class collection related to the bard.

It is believed that approximately 750 copies of the First Folio were published in 1623, seven years after the death of William Shakespeare, and today, there are 235 copies that have survived across the world, with three of them in the care of the SBT.

Since March, one of these copies, known as the Ashburnham First Folio, has been on display in exhibition, which closed earlier this month.

Now, the centuries old book has returned to the SBT’s collection storage for a period of five years.

SBT curator Emily White said: ‘”Books, even modern ones, are one of the most difficult types of objects to care for as they are predominantly made of organic materials. These organic materials are highly susceptible to damage caused by certain environmental conditions.

“Because of this, it was important that we returned the First Folio to our collection store, where we can conserve and protect the 400-year-old book from damage.

“Our collection stores are environmentally controlled to ensure they provide the best possible environment for, not only the First Folio, but for over one million objects in our care.

“To cancel out the exposure to light and agents of deterioration, the First Folio will be rested for five years. This simply means that this special book will remain in our store for a certain period, away from light and physical handling or display.

“With these measures we hope to be able to share the First Folio with our visitors in 400 years from now.’’

The continued conservation of the First Folios under the care of SBT is of the utmost importance to ensure future generations have access to one of the world’s most important books.

This also includes the digitisation of the Folio under the care of the charity to ensure people have access to the book wherever they are in the world.

To date 106 pages of the Ashburnham First Folio have been digitised and made available on the SBT’s collections database, providing people with a close-up view of the First Folio.


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